T’was the week before Christmas and all through the town not a creature was stirring. Or at least that’s the way it seems to me now - although I may need to adjust my expectations a little now that I’m entering my first off season out here on the edge of the country.

I’ve asked around and have heard from a few people that month of December is slower than just about any other for the town– that a combination of family events, shopping and office parties keep people from taking any trips during the month. The holidays are a tough time for those of us in the news business. Invariably, deadlines get moved around and the scarcity of activity makes filling a paper a challenge.

In a way though there’s something nice about town right now – a feeling like I know most of the people everywhere I go now. Although I have lived here a while now, this in a strange way is the first time that I’ve really felt how small Cannon Beach is. I’ve mostly lived in mid-sized cities before I moved to the coast this year, and I’ll admit I was apprehensive about being in a small town at first. With the hustle and bustle of the summer Cannon Beach never felt to small to me – there were new faces and people everywhere.

Now that it’s winter, I have to say that I kind of like being in a small town. There’s something very comforting about seeing the same people all over the place. For the first time I feel like I’m beginning to get what small town life is about. The support, the community and the comfort are all new. In my hometown of Eugene I could sit for an hour in a store and never see anyone I knew. Here, I’d be more surprised if I didn’t see someone I knew when I walk in the door.

This feeling of being connected is well timed for me – just as the weather and storms are starting I feel close enough to this community to handle anything. Whether it’s a storm, a tsunami, or just a rainy afternoon we’ll get through things as a town.

On an unrelated note – I wanted to mention that my heart is breaking for the shooting victims and their family and friends at both the Clackamas Town Center and the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I’ve written about shootings in this column in the past and I really wanted to again – but these two shootings have both hit close to home for me and I’ve spent hours trying unsuccessfully to express my horror and sadness at these tragedies. My emotions on the subject are just too raw for me to find the right thing to say.

Since I can’t figure out how to say what I want, I’ll rely on the old standard of quoting someone else who said it better. In this case, I’m drawn to the sentiments in the Charlie Chaplin’s climactic speech in “The Great Dictator.” The entire speech is worth watching, but the first few lines seem particularly poignant reminders after the tragedies we’ve witnessed:

“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.”

The world is not always kind to us human beings, so we should all remember to stick together and be kind to one another.

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