Fall Clean Up at the Post Office

Saturday 2010 10 23

The community water tank is holding steady at 10 feet. No sign of the storm.

Deer Harbor Post Office
Deer Harbor Post Office

Because Yvonne is chair of the Deer Harbor Community Club Grounds Committee, she is responsible for the health and attractiveness of the grass, gardens, and plantings around the Community Club building and around the Post Office. Likely unique or nearly so in owning the building housing the local post office, the Community Club, managed to buy the building from Wyndam Properties two years ago after the company refused to renew the lease for the Post Office. It then was almost certain that we would have to drive to Eastsound or the ferry landing to pick up our mail. Even more important, the Post Office is the place where we meet one another, unplanned, to exchange news and gossip when picking up mail from postal boxes, buying stamps, shipping presents to grandchildren, and so on. It’s a stage for the theater of community.

Yvonne is a great organizer. She sees clearly what needs to be done and can recruit and direct people to accomplish a shared goal. Since the Community Club owned the Post Office site, it needed to keep it looking good as a matter of pride and practicality. The Post Office is adjacent to the Resort at Deer Harbor and just across Deer Harbor Road from the Bell Marina at Deer Harbor. The Community Club building and grounds are set back off Deer Harbor Road a quarter mile north and within the boundaries of the Deer Harbor Hamlet.

Yvonne on the job at the PO
Yvonne on the job at the PO

The weather for the day didn’t look promising. A strong low and high waves off the west coast of Vancouver Island, our protection from direct exposure to the storms of the Pacific. Rain and wind likely Saturday. Certain on Sunday. Yvonne had announced the fall clean up at the monthly potluck and sent emails and talked to those likely to participate – the core group that always turns out and does most of the work. As an incentive, Yvonne would serve lunch – turkey chili, cornbread, and chocolate cookies. Pam S would also bring a pot of chili.

The crew at work
The crew at work

At the Post Office, where the clean up would begin, later to move to the Community Club site, volunteers began to appear even before the scheduled 10:00 a.m. starting time, carrying rakes, shovels, clippers, and other gardening paraphernalia. By 10:15 20 volunteers were on hand, raking leaves, pulling weeds, and scrapping green something growing through concrete cracks and joints between roadway and retaining wall. Mostly gray-haired in their 60s and 70s, a few younger and older, all working continuously, effectively, cooperatively, happily – with intermittent conversation and news swapping.

Yvonne managed the group without having to do much explicitly – other than tell people what she thought needed to be done. They worked out the details, moving in and out of roles and jobs, lending and borrowing tools. Bob brought his pickup over from his home nearby and cuttings, sweepings, and shovels full went into the bed.

Filling Bob's truck bed
Filling Bob's truck bed

Shasta daisies, unappealing to the local deer population that like to browse all unfenced gardens, had spread enough to obstruct the parking lot exit and pedestrian approach. Yvonne put me in charge of digging most of them out and as I laid clumps on the adjacent sidewalk, others carried the clumps for transplantation across the parking lot to a bed that was mostly empty and where Yvonne and I had installed two posts and signs in the spring making it clear that the parking spaces were for Post Office patrons.

Where the flag pole will go
Where the flag pole will go

With the Post Office grounds clean up complete about 11:45, the group migrated to the Community Club where Yvonne issued orders and began to set up for lunch. Howard B, club president had spent the morning there installing two posts, side by side with enough space between them to hold a nautical, cross style flag pole he’d built from an appropriately-sized tree trunk he found floating in and retrieved from the waters of Deer Harbor. The concrete holding the poles needed to set a week or two before the pole could be raised. Later on Howard scampered up the roof to the belfry where he installed a new pull rope that hung down from the bell into the front hall of the club building below, once used to call children to class during the years the building served as the local one-room school before consolidation of the schools to Eastsound.

Lunch break
Lunch break
Howard strings a new bell line
Howard strings a new bell line

James, our youngest son, in a neuroscience PhD program at UCLA, called about 5:00 responding to my suggestion that we try FaceTime, Apple’s videophone service, he on his iPhone and we on our MacBook Pro. Yvonne was skeptical about the value of the service. If you talk to someone on the phone, why do you need to look at them too? In this case FaceBook (or Skype or whatever) turns out to be well suited to our needs. Yvonne and I could both see and talk to James and his boyfriend, Keith, who was beginning his PhD work in philosophy at USC. A more satisfying connection than telephone. And Keith could show us the guyere cheese pate choux appetizers that he had prepared and we could see the filled champagne flutes they would have with dinner shortly.

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