Learning About Neighbors and An Abiding Spirit of Generosity

I had the good fortune of growing up next to a fun neighbor. Her name was Winnie. She shared her gummy bears with me. And she had a fancy dollhouse she let me play with when I would visit.

When I was four or five, she taught me how to do cartwheels. One day, my mom looked out of the front window of our house from the kitchen table and observed me cartwheeling in the front yard. She nearly fell out of her chair — not because her youngest daughter was a gymnastic prodigy, but because Winnie was 70. And she was out there doing them with me.

Winnie was also an artist and a gardener and a chain smoker. Whenever one of us was sick, she sent us some delicious vegetable soup. Except for the okra. I always wished she would leave out the slimy okra.

She was the kind of neighbor from whom we borrowed a cup of sugar or flour or a few eggs, especially around the holidays or when company was coming. Mom would call over, and I was sent to procure the items, taking the narrow, well-worn path between azalea bushes towering over my head.

Winnie met me at the door, goodies in hand, with a wicked grin and a gleam in her eye and tried to stomp on my feet. All in good fun. I’d escape and run the sugar back to the house, laughing.

This March issue marks my first anniversary as the editor of the Seven Lakes Insider. And how this year has flown.

I don’t know if it is the rigor of monthly deadlines, or the fact that the years just seem to speed up as I age, or if it’s the careening of my teenagers toward adulthood that have punched life into warp speed. I suspect it has something to do with the maxim “time flies when you’re having fun.”

When I signed on to this gig, I had no idea how much fun I’d have. Not only do I get to work with smart, creative folks, I have gotten to know the community of Seven Lakes and West End, my neighbors, in a more profound way.

The absolute best part about my job is getting to know our neighbors and telling their stories. The incredible talents, the endearing eccentricities and the inspiring perseverance of the people who comprise this community continue to be endlessly interesting to me. I’m enriched, personally, by my neighbors: small business owners, athletes, authors, artists, philanthropists, volunteers and many more.

It’s inevitable that people living in close proximity, neighbors even, stomp on feet either to tease or taunt. And that is part of the story too. But the enduring story of our community has the fun and friendly characteristics of the first neighbor I ever knew. It’s a young-at-heart community with a cup of sugar or warm soup to share.

It’s been an honor to tell the stories of this place. I’m thankful for all who read our pages and advertise within them. It’s great to be your neighbor. (Just no okra, please).

Contact Maggie Beamguard at maggie@thepilot.com.