The approach to Duckpond is beautiful: green fields with white fences, real farm country. And then the mansions appeared, followed by rows of what are popularly called McMansions, each on its perfect green lawn, all made out of brick, with shutters.
The people in these houses were unpretentious, down-to-earth, and exceptionally nice, but we had been staying in large, new houses since we landed in America and honestly, the endless newness and expanse of space was beginning to make me homesick. It made me bizarrely happy to visit a family living in Duckpond in a tumbledown little farmhouse with well-trodden wooden floors and shelves for preserves in the basement.
Duckpond is a quiet but nice town, with rabbits and wild tiger-lilies and fireflies. You East Coasters don't realize how blessed you are to have fireflies. And deer! My daughter and I stood transfixed by a deer standing fairly near to us, watching us as we watched it.
"There's a deer!" I exclaimed to a passerby.
"Yeah, they're cute, aren't they," she observed, without stopping.
"We saw a deer!" I exclaimed to our hostess.
"Deer are suburban rats," she explained.
Well, they eat our yard in Portland, too; but I do find them enchanting.
What I found most striking about the observant Jewish community of Duckpond is not what a close-knit community it is, or that all its members, no matter their background and personality, are committed to spiritual growth, but that when I asked them what they like about the Duckpond community, every one of them described these attributes of the community in near-identical terms. That's unusual.