You know you’re getting old when you look back on the past with a sigh and a lukewarm cuppa tea. To you, the world is going to hell in a handbag and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Remember communities? Those tight-knit, small, quaint towns where everyone walks slowly and stops for a ‘yarn’. I’m sure there are such places but they’re nowhere near me. No. My town is filled with flustered mothers, overworked parents and more activities than you can handle. Our eyeballs are bulging with cool stuff but it has cost us our sense of community.

No one has the time to make a meal for a friend, or even pick up a chicken from Coles. Most people have their heads down while their bum wiggles in the air. Everyone is doing it. And when a nice thing is done for a neighbour or friend, there’s that awkward moment when no one quite knows what to do with the situation. There’s a nervousness of putting yourself out there, of risking rejection.

It’s silly really. I remember I cooked a risotto for a family I didn’t know that well. I made it quite bland because they had kids and I was trying to hit all targets with the one arrow! I had cooked it and was going to surprise her and just drop it in and RUN! I had a lump in my throat, on the verge of panic. I knew this lady was pretty well off and fancy pants but I wanted to show her some good old fashioned community spirit regardless of her bank account. So I did it and felt like a complete idiot when I did. Why? I was thinking how naff the food was, how the effort was, perhaps unnecessary and how old fashioned I was. She was grateful but it still felt a little weird.

I love reading stories and watching shows set in small communities. Gilmore Girls is the perfect example of a community living in each others’ pockets, helping out when even the slightest thing goes wrong. The whole town turns out for a cat’s funeral, they try and make the mother the biggest pizza ever, there is a dog’s funeral that is very well attended and they farewell one of their town kids with a massive party in pouring rain with speeches, sashes and the school band.

Then there’s Anne of Green Gables where a huge effort is made when the minister visits. They make their own currant wine and pies and milk their cows and spend precious time talking about the lives of all around them.

Perhaps the key is time. It seems like the world is like one of those wind-up toys. Click, click, click… around we go… things getting tighter and more stressful and more intense. Perhaps, like the toy, some one is going to let go and we’re going to spin out of control and land where we began. In community, in simplicity, in long dresses, with cows and veges and time.

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