It’s time to kick back in the hammock or slide into a comfortable Adirondack chair to relax and take it all in. August––the reliably delicious month we wish could linger a while longer has arrived. All the preparations––the planning, the pruning, preparing the soil, the planting, the watering and tending with care––produce delightful flowers, herbs and vegetables. Rows of trellised grapes on manicured vines and old orchards planted decades ago are still happily producing fruit.
The flavorful strawberries of June have come and gone; old-fashioned raspberries have already peaked. The plums, apple and pear trees we planted ourselves are now laden with fruit, maturing and slowly ripening under a bright August sky.
These glorious gardens tucked here and there that are found up and down our peninsula didn’t happen magically.
At Key Peninsula News we spend a fair amount of time talking up locals, researching stories, looking at maps and connecting the dots. Each and every month we approach our job as journalists seriously. Following leads, we talk with people and verify information from reliable sources in our goal to separate fact from fiction and reality versus rhetoric, all to deliver a newspaper worthy of reading.
Our process of discovery can be slow, but rarely fails to reveal deeper connections, common threads linking people and places in time with familiar country roads and generations of families who made and continue to make their mark on our community. We discover how our paths crossed in the past, in the present, and launch into a future as yet unknown.
Each trip to the Key Peninsula Museum at the civic center yields an astonishing wealth of documents, photographs and artifacts available for reference. Every dog-eared page of local history compiled and written by volunteers who weren’t concerned about making a fortune but rather believed in the importance and value of preserving a historical record to provide context and meaning for future generations.
Historical records, letters and newspaper clippings all sorted, catalogued and in many cases digitized––it all exists because somebody did more than think of it as a good idea. These collections undoubtedly came from families wondering whether anyone might be interested in the first yearbook from the original graduating class of Vaughn Union High School or Uncle Axel’s well-worn wooden tool box filled with old world 19th century hand tools still out in the barn.
The places we enjoy today were built upon the foundation of labors past. The generous kindly nature of Dr. Penrose, whose family spent summers vacationing on what became the state park that now bears his name, demonstrated his conviction in the wonders of nature to nourish and inspire our children.
The Key Peninsula Civic Center and the Longbranch Improvement Clubhouse were each constructed to serve as gymnasiums adjacent to schoolhouses long gone. Where would we be without those places to gather? Who would we be as a community without them? It’s in these public spaces where people gather that connections are made and the power of collaboration is born.
Part of what makes the Key so special is the irrepressible wealth of optimism from visionaries who see a clear path towards achievable opportunities. When good ideas combine with that classic KP roll-up-your-sleeves can-do attitude of volunteers who want to help, our community is strengthened in ways we may not have considered.
Our Key Peninsula community was built, nurtured and continues to grow strong on the power of volunteerism. We may be strangers when we begin, but by the time we’ve labored together, we form relationships. We learn about each other as we chitchat while setting up chairs and making coffee for the next meeting, decorating those big old buildings for dances or fundraisers we become acquaintances, learning people’s names we become friends through the dynamic powers of collaboration.
Later when we see each other at the grocery store, at the pharmacy, or a restaurant, we smile and say hello. From there, anything is possible. It’s the Key Peninsula.