Monday, October 4, 2010
Paella Fest - Looking into our own future
A couple weeks ago, Mark and I accompanied my mom and visiting pal Phyllis to a gala event at Vashon's Senior Center. There are senior centers and there are senior centers. Here on our little rock, we are blessed to have a centrally-located building filled with volunteers and laughter, hard work and classes, fund-raisers and charity works.
It's got its politics and warts, like any small town organization filled with retirees, but for the most part, our senior center is a vibrant and integral part of our close-knit community. My sense, from 8 years of island residence and 45 years of life, is that it is one of those rare elder facilities that folks in the community just gradually find themselves more and more a part of until, before they know it, they're serving on the Board, running Monday bridge night, and giving out scholarships when graduation rolls around. The Vashon Senior Center doesn't sit quietly in the corner of our shared life until the Age 65 bell goes off and one feels obligated to shuffle over and play pinochle.
So, while Mark and I were undoubtedly the whipper-snappers at the table, it didn't feel at all out of place to be breaking bread with this gang at a recent "friend-raiser" - an all-out Paella Fest ambitiously held outdoors in the driveway-cum-patio. Ambitious, yes - but the wisdom of the organizers shone through in the form of many, many canopies.
And a good thing too. Because, as 2010 has shown us repeatedly, Mother Nature is indeed a fickle friend. The traditionally dependable September balm was rudely shoved aside by a storm of nearly gale proportions. Most of the dressed-up seniors retreated inside to enjoy their feast and the Flamenco dancers warm and dry, but a few - including us pre-seniors - sort of reveled in the sizzle of the paella pans and the sparkle of the meticulously-hung fairy lights swinging in 40 mph winds and shining through curtains of rain all around us.
We helped, we feasted, we ferried dirty dishes through the weather to the kitchen. And by the time we went home, we were happily, gloriously drenched.
Whenever Mark is feeling old, I remind him that it's better than the alternative. And, looking into the future of an old age here in this community, I know it's true.