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by Mary Loudin

Imagine that a 21st century cinematographer has recently discovered that 80-square-mile township of West Milford in the rolling highlands of northern New Jersey. She is immediately impressed by the drama of the natural world playing out in the wooded hills dotted with strange pink puddingstones. She sees a serene landscape dotted with modest clearings and bordered by calm blue lakes and rock-strewn streams. She notices the wandering herds of white-tailed deer, flocks of elusive wild turkeys and the occasional lumbering black bear. She pans in upon West Milford with an aerial camera, attempting to capture how the land might have appeared in vast geologic time, imagining the cold emptiness of space, followed by volcanic eruptions, the inexorable movements of glaciers, and the transformation of the mountains into physical environment, host to vibrant animal populations and plentiful, healthy plant life. The cinematographer sees with new eyes the past and the present world of nature - that which the local residents probably take for granted.

Leaving her lofty twin perspectives of unfathomable space and the unfettered natural world, our ambitious cinematographer (perhaps herself a future member of our club) next desires to capture the more readily accessible human drama playing out within our township. There are many bustling activities from which to choose. She wisely focuses her attention on a small group of lively, dedicated women who have called themselves the West Milford Newcomers Club for the past twenty plus years. While a fifth of the century is merely blip-or less-on the cosmic calendar, in human terms those years constitute a respectable length of time in which to create a dynamic women's club with lasting friendships and unforgetable memories. As a newcomer, the cinematographer is welcomed into our hearts and homes and, as her camera rolls, the human drama continues to unfold.

Our new friend accepted our offer to Let's Do Lunch and savored the delicious food of various restaurants. She joined us for raucous early-morning Breakfast Bunch breakfasts at local diners. We Wawayanda Walkers insisted that she grab a leash for an hour to engage in intense interspecies communication, lest she lose sight of the joy which canine companions bring to our busy lives. She applauded the core decency and generosity of our group during interviews of fragile folks who were appreciative recipients of the tender care of our Sunshine Squad. Always the adventurer, our cinematographer donned hiking boots to trek across various local terrains with several intrepid Hiker Babes. She stimulated her mind during a productive evening with the Novel Group. Finally, she enjoyed a special highlight -- a delightful evening of gourmet international food prepared by the Supper Club.

We Newcomers cherish the thought that such laudable and delightful human drama has flourished in West Milford since 1986. When our cinematographer finally leaves our township for places far remote, we hope she leaves the West Milford Newcomers Club with a suggestion on how we can increase our efforts to be inclusive of all women in this township, regardless of from how afar they've come or how long- an eon or a blip- they've lived here: Newcomers, Old Friends and Neighbors!


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