A Soft Place to Fall

We live in a small community. Our town is a mere 2.6 square miles of densely packied houses, within a huge metropolitan area. It is where we bought our “starter” home. We said we would be here about five years, and they told us that many people say that, but few leave. We have been here 18 years. For us, it has become a soft place to fall.

We have added on to the house, and made many improvements. It has grown with us. It exudes who we are. It is a virtual rainbow of colors, some bold, some subdued. Wood floors and plantation blinds. Paintings, photographs, knickknacks, and furniture from all of our adventures. All these touches bring warmth, comfort, and character to it.  It’s not a very big house, only 1600 square feet, but it’s just enough for me. I have told friends for years that I like a house that “hugs” me. It feels safe. It is a soft place to fall.

We moved to China for four years, but we always came back twice a year. Christmas and summer were spent here. It was home base.  We didn’t rent it, or move our things out. We left most of our possessions here. When we walked back in, we felt like we had never left. We have friends and neighbors who have been here with us for many years, through thick and thin, good times and bad. They are like family. They are here when we return. It is a soft place to fall.

Our community is chock full of young families, but it wasn’t always that way. When we first moved in, it was mainly retirees. The “downtown” area was dated, and although it had a bank, post office, grocery store, gas station, and a number of other small businesses, it wasn’t the kind of place that people would come to hang out on a weekend. I had a feeling in my gut that was going to change. It was a great location, and a better value than the areas around it. It is now full of unique gift shops, restaurants,  pubs, spas, and coffee shops. Many of the old houses have been torn down for new builds. Others have updated existing homes. There isn’t a day you won’t find people wandering around the area. Walking dogs. Pushing strollers. The local ice cream shop has a line going out the door every day. I see people I know every time I go out. It is a soft place to fall.

This morning, I was woken up before 7am to a child hollering up the stairs…”There is a fire truck at the next door neighbor’s house!” I rushed outside to find our neighbor standing outside his house, surrounded by emergency vehicles and personnel. There seemed to be every available officer from our town and several from the next town over. We are lucky to not have many crimes,  or emergencies in our community. Not much happens here. They come out in large numbers when something does. There were at least 6 police cars, two fire engines, and an ambulance. They had arrived no more than two minutes after his call. They are looking out for us. We are safe here. It is a soft place to fall.

The events of this morning reminded me of the things I love about our town. Standing outside talking with neighbors about what was going on. Being there for one another. Our hometown heroes, our police officers, taking the time to chat with us, while they waited for the electric company to come. Accepting the coffee I offered. There is truly nothing better than having a small town feel, within such a large metropolitan area. It is our little slice of heaven. A soft place to fall.

We stumbled upon our town while looking for this house. It is small enough that I had hardly ever heard of it before then, much less known where it was, or imagined that I would spend so much of my life living in it.  It was unexpected. A pleasant surprise. A blessing from God. It is OUR soft place to fall.

 

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The Reminders of Spring

I love Spring. The fresh air has finally arrived. It smells like life renewed. The trees are budding, the bulbs are beginning to bloom. The world around me is becoming colorful again.

There is so much joy in my heart for the simplest of pleasures. An open window, the sound of a light breeze. A blanket to ward off the slight chill in the air. A cup of coffee. A book. A dog snuggled up on my lap. Comfort clothing. For me, this is a sweatshirt and shorts or capris. The sweatshirt keeps me warm, while I can finally rid myself of longer pants and socks. Although it doesn’t seem like much, after a long winter, it feels freeing.

Even the dogs enjoy the change in the air. They stand, or sit, in sunny spots on the deck, lifting their heads to the oncoming breeze. Closing their eyes. When I open the door to call them in, they look at me from their cozy place. They don’t move. The cats sit on their perch by the open window, leaning into the screen to get the full benefit. Or stand by the door when I open it, to take a peek outside.

The sounds of the neighborhood coming back to life. People coming out of their winter hibernation. Lawn mowers whirling, the smell of fresh-cut grass.  Children playing. Dogs bark as walkers pass by. Strollers and wagons come out of storage. Laughter and conversation, as people return to their patio sets. Birds.

At this time of year, I am always reminded of God’s wonderful creations. God’s love. Hope, faith, joy. That after every storm, after dark times, there will always be light. Growth. Renewal. Color. For this, I am forever grateful.