When I first arrived at Glen Isle Estates in 1985 our streets were still unpaved. Layered with a substrate of crushed oyster shells, the dust was a heralded feature of summertime. Nature and weather alone controlled the shape and integrity of our streets. You didn’t drive too fast into our community lest you discover a yet uncharted pothole. Long since paved, there are still many who drive our community roads slowly enough to savor the serenity, respect the many walkers, and bike-riders, and who still hope to stop and chat with a neighbor or two.
Correct me if I am wrong, but Glen Isle is the most neighborly community in the South River watershed. There is something timeless and magical about a neighborhood where most people can name or describe the residents of every home. That includes the dogs, by name, and breed.
Where everybody knows your (dog's) name
As an aside, that used to be easier since when I first moved here, and every dog was a relative of one extremely prolific dog appropriately named “Trouble.” Getting the breed correct was easy then, they were all mutts, but getting their names straight was impossible; they were identical.
Before county leash laws, the neighborhood dogs were an even stronger force in the community, especially since they were usually fresh from a swim in the river. The traditions of celebrating our four-legged neighbors have endured, slightly modified since one is no longer apt to be greeted by wet, sandy, unleashed affection from more than one household upon every return home.
I still marvel at my neighbor’s dog though, who predicts my schedule without fail, as well as every person in my household, but remains behind her own fence, body wagging, kisses ready, to greet us, daily.
It is the warmth of the people here that carries on a Glen Isle tradition of being neighborly. When I first moved here, I had four immediate neighbors who were long retired and always appeared instantly with advice in any number of urgent situations. Not only did they flow with wisdom and experience, but they had actually assisted with the construction and renovations of my home some 50 years earlier, so they knew their stuff.
Several of my neighbors could recount the exact year that every tree and ornamental bush in my yard was planted. Amazing to me, they could even advise about a problem before the situation was dire, and I learned appreciatively about pre-emptive upkeep on an old log cabin.
It was one of these neighbors who safely braved the enormous snake the girls and I encountered in the garden while we watched from behind the locked door. It was another of these neighbors who brought me bulbs and cuttings from his much-admired garden and whose blooms still thrill me many years after his passing.
And, it was one of these neighbors who lectured me daily in the spring, summer, and fall about maintenance and every other task a homeowner needs to understand and tackle annually. And oddly enough, and so unusual, I think, three of these cherished neighbors’ homes are still bustling with second, third and fourth generation ancestors.
I love to hear the same expression or lingering story of a generation long gone from our community but cherished still. Even the “newcomers” still recall an address or a household by a name long-passed, but still revered for their community contributions. Newest homeowners can even be heard telling someone: “I live in the old (someone else’s surname) house.”
Glen Isle encourages strong relationships among neighbors. Our beaches, our clubhouse, our homeowners’ association, all thrive because of the hard work and actions of caring community members. There are socials and activities planned and attended every season in Glen Isle.
In Glen Isle, we know and respect our history. And we know and respect each other. What more can you ask from a neighborhood? It is what makes a neighborhood a community. I live in my favorite place on earth: Glen Isle, a community on the South River.
Anne E. Levin Garrison has lived in Glen Isle Estates since 1985. Glen Isle Estates in Riva can be found at the end of Glen Isle Road in Riva.