In this age when folks move around so frequently (and hardly know their neighbors) I want to share a story about the value of staying put.
A few days ago I was helping a fairly new resident of Ocracoke install a gas range. Actually his electric range had gone kaput and I mentioned that I had a small gas range he could use. I couldn't find my hand truck (I think I loaned it to someone and haven't gotten it back!), but Frank let us use his (we returned it promptly, by the way).
We found a gas bottle, and I went to the hardware store for the copper tubing. Of course they didn't have enough of the size I wanted, and I really didn't want to wait a week or more, so I took two coils of two different sizes (no need to actually pay for it, or even make a note -- Tommy just told me to take the tubing, measure whatever I used and let him know so he could charge it to me later).
Well, then I needed the fittings to join the two sizes together. I didn't have what I needed, and the hardware store didn't have them either, so I biked around the island looking for a neighbor who might have the right fittings. I found cousin Ed sitting on the Community Store porch (he has everything). Back at his garage we dumped out buckets and cans full of brass, copper, and stainless steel parts. After several minutes we had concocted just the right conglomeration.
I still needed a regulator. After only one phone call David instructed me to go to one of his outbuildings and locate the gas bottle out back, and remove the regulator (he wasn't using gas there any longer). The nuts turned easily, and in a few minutes I was back at my neighbor's with everything I needed. In hardly any time at all (well I did crawl under the house and drill a few holes so we could snake the tubing where it needed to go) we had the gas stove installed and working.
I like knowing that I have neighbors who are always willing to help, and living in one place (Ocracoke in particular) for years creates connections that help make possible what might be next to impossible in many communities.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the 2008 Portsmouth Island Homecoming. You can read it here.