We have traditions on the Island that make our lives easier. It’s not surprising for a community of 650 people living in a community that’s 150 years old, has never had any stores, is surrounded by water and cut off from the world except by boat.
Through necessity, we’ve become very interdependent.
So, one of our traditions is borrowing from one another. We are truly a community of borrowers. Hardly a day goes by when we don’t call on our neighbours for something. Especially for the practical stuff of everyday life. We borrow, not only because we have no stores for shopping, but because we also don’t have storage space in our homes for bulk-buying.
What we do when we run out of something
Our houses sit on a sandbar, so no basements – if we dig too deep we hit water. And because our houses are relatively small, we don’t have attics. As we’re a carless community, we have no garages. It’s not easy to stock up with a 12-pack of paper towels (though we do try).
People often ask, “What do we do when you run out of milk, coffee or toilet paper?”
Good question. Without stores, we can’t run out for an extra pound of ground meat when unexpected guests drop-by. We can’t drive to Home Depot for the last piece of insulation for our home renovation.
What do we do? Generally, we cut our tortière into smaller slices and wait until our next trip to the city for the insulation. Making do, or living without, is another old Island tradition.
But before we give up, we DO make an effort to borrow.
First stop is a phone call or drop-in to our neighbours. We know they are happy to share because next week, when they run out of dog food, they’ll be the ones borrowing. If no luck there, we then put out a call on our Island e-group, myneighbours.
The e-group requests
On any given day, you’ll find an Islander posting an email looking for a blow-up mattress for grandkids, cilantro for Vietnamese Pho, or paving stones for a walkway. You’ll usually find what you’re looking for – within minutes. The next message on the e-group? “Cilantro found!”
If unlucky, you make do, or live without. This isn’t a bad thing. We’ve learned that the tortière can feed eight if necessary, the soup is okay without cilantro and the path will get finished. We’re a pretty relaxed bunch.
The Bridge Boutique
And who says we don’t have stores? We do. One. The Bridge Boutique, so named because of its location near the bridge that connects two islands in our community. It’s a small hand-built, rain-proof open-air wooden structure that houses items Islanders no longer need.
This is where we take our gently used clothes, kitchen utensils, old copies of Macleans, crime novels, diet books, children’s toys, old china and glassware. Free for the taking.
Every Islander shops there. Some daily, to see any new arrivals.
Recycle, reuse, repurpose. An old Island tradition.