This, of course, has its down sides. Typical of every village, it's fairly certain that at some point there will be residents who have stories to tell about their neighbours, whether they're true or not.
However, while the gossiping and suppositions might irritate, the familiarity that causes all of that can at times surround you with a strong sense of family. There are the folks who know you've got a problem before you do and come running to help. When one of their own is in trouble they circle the wagons. They offer support. They extend the hand of kindness. They take care of each other.
When you live in a small town, you're rarely alone. This too can assuredly be a mixed blessing. There are times when you'd just really rather not talk to anyone or see anyone you know. On those days I opt to stay indoors or remain secluded in my backyard.
For the most part, though, it's a pretty great feeling to be greeted by a smiling face and warm hello at every corner.
This is my morning commute. Living and working within the same small town allows me to walk or cycle to and from each day. Neighbours wave and holler good morning. Other walkers offer a howdy and friendly grin. Occasionally there are anecdotes or stories to share before we meander on our way again.
Enroute I pass through our modest downtown. It's the kind of business area where the local barber hangs out in front of his shop to catch the goings-on in the day's early hours, where store owners chat with passers-by as they unlock, where you catch people running in to the convenience store or filling up at the gas station and they always take time to talk.
As I look at the storefronts, far too many of which are now empty, I give a silent expression of gratitude to the merchants who are hanging in there. Surviving in a small business anywhere today isn't easy. Travelling to urban centres or Big Box stores usually means better selection and pricing than a typical independent store can provide. The ones that do manage to eke out a living are the true heart and soul of a community, however. To celebrate them here's a wonderful collection of 45 pictures from iPHOTOS.com saluting small business.