In the last couple of weeks we have increased the population of a small rural town by 2. And what a lovely introduction to that town we have experienced! The first night we ordered some pizzas from a recently opened business. It had been a big day packing those final boxes, going behind the removalists room by room to clean, and filling our cars to the brim between downpours. After the drive out and near-disaster of the move, it was definitely going to be a bottle of wine night. So as our pizzas cooked we walked up to the bottle shop. The roller door was shut so we wandered into the pub to ask about opening hours. The young woman advised us she had only just closed, and could reopen for us if we had cash. With that, she extracts the cash drawer from the register and we follow her down the driveway. Balancing the drawer in one hand, she unlocks the side door, lets us in, and installs the drawer into the cash register whilst we choose our poison. We pay, she removes the cash drawer, and we hold the door closed for her whilst she locks it, and off we go! Can you imagine that happening in the city?!
The next day is our first full day in our new town. We joined the library and I immediately reserved the next in the series of Diana Gabaldon books I have been working my way through. The waiting list is long for these books in the Gold Coast libraries. It has always seemed unfair to me that after waiting a couple of months you are given only 2 weeks to read a 1400 page novel! So I was delighted to find that in this district the loan period is 4 weeks. I borrowed another of Diana’s novels to keep me going while I wait my turn for ‘A Breath of Snow and Ashes’.
That night was movie night in town. Now it’s not your typical movie theater. The multi-purpose auditorium has a screen, and for movie nights the room is set up with 90 or so chairs. An acquaintance was working there that night, and was so surprised to learn that had just moved to the area. So after the little theatre had seated its 40 or so movie-goers she made an announcement, introducing us as new arrivals! We stood up and were greeted with a round of applause and welcome by all. After the movie ended, a few people came up to introduce themselves. One immediately asked me ‘Do you play tennis?’ We learned about book clubs and dinner nights and that people who move from somewhere else are called ‘blow-ins’!
Our second full day in town was similar. People recognise an unfamiliar face, ask if you are visiting, offer a welcome when you tell them you are not, and introduce themselves. I did a big shop at IGA which for years has been my preferred grocery store because it is independent. This town has a surprisingly big one. I was asked if I had a Community Benefit card, and didn’t know what this was. A percentage of the money spent by customers with a card is donated to an organisation that the customer selects. I immediately organised a card, and chose the Rural Fire Brigade as the beneficiary.
Our first days in town offered us the loveliest introduction to a new town that we could have hoped for. However despite having a library card and a Community Benefit card, I suspect that we are going to be regarded as blow-ins for many years to come! I think we can cope with that.