It’s Disneyland without the lines! It’s a cruise without the ocean! It’s spring break with better booze! And, up until its total shutdown in March due to COVID, this 55+ community was in full swing, with residents’ social schedules overflowing with events.
The 60 charter clubs, with yearly dues of only $10, enticed you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. The golf courses, swimming pools, outdoor sports, hiking trails and exercise classes spurred you to get up and get moving. It was hard to decide what shows, concerts and movies to attend. The neighborhood representatives that lead each community worked with their various committees and planned activities.
Sun City is not for everyone. While nonconformists would deplore the many rules, procedures, guidelines and policies that need to be followed, sticklers welcome the regulations that keep everything running like a well-oiled machine and looking just right.
Leave it to some energetic, creative neighbors of mine to not let anything get in their way of camaraderie. In the spirit of friendship, they maneuvered around set protocols to come up with some resourceful ideas:
In an attempt to support neighborhood restaurants and have a little something to look forward to, our neighborhood representative introduced Takeout Thursdays. Early each week, a restaurant was chosen and its menu was emailed to all. Orders were sent in and the restaurants were all too happy to deliver directly to anywhere from 60-75 doors.
When her students were bored at recess, a retired teacher remembered their delight when she first said “Let’s talk with chalk!” She wanted to rekindle that feeling with her neighbors.
Excited, she emailed her neighbors an invitation to come to her driveway and “chalk talk.” Before she knew it, pictures, inspirational messages and poems adorned her driveway. In between the creative process, there was even some social distance visiting.
The Friendship Bench
Every time she would walk past her neighbor’s front yard, it would remind her of a similar setting in her previous home, which had the added feature of a lovely old bench.
Knowing her neighbor was a woodworker, she asked if he could build her a bench. What she didn’t know was that he had put himself through college as a boat carpenter, so was not intimidated in the least to take on the project with only a photo to work with. Since she was only used to painting very small images, it took a couple of weeks for her to teach herself to paint the larger images of poppies on the bench.
This labor of love was finally completed and positioned in its place of honor, under the shade of a beloved tree. They then emailed the entire neighborhood and extended an invitation from them both, to come by and sit a spell on the friendship bench, whenever the spirit moved them.
At the onset of COVID, an artistic neighbor began the undertaking of anonymously leaving a painted rock outside every home in our neighborhood. Little did she know that her creations would take on a life of their own.
The bereaved woman that stepped out of her home and found a rock that said “Faith.” An ill neighbor that looked down and saw the rock with “Hope” written on it. It was awe inspiring how these rocks, with just the right comforting sentiments on them, seemed to find the spot where they belonged.
In the meantime, almost overnight, painted rocks started to appear on our community’s walking path. No one seemed to know who was creating them (our neighbor says it wasn’t her), which made the upbeat, faith based and funny messages all the more enchanting. You couldn’t help but smile and sometimes, laugh out loud as you passed them.
Who would ever think that something as simple as rocks could soften the sharp edges of our current isolation? Or, that even though the rain had washed away all those good chalk talk wishes, it didn’t dampen the spirits of this close-knit community.
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