I have visited wine regions all over the world but never lived in wine country before I moved from the New York City suburbs to the North Fork of Long Island last October. I wanted to see what it was like to be surrounded by vineyards year-round instead of just visiting them for a few days at a time. While I figured the transition to rural life would have its challenges, I didn't think one of them would be finding like-minded friends. After all, there are dozens of wineries within 10 miles of my new house. Then my friend Louisa, a longtime North Forker, issued a warning.
"November and March are the hardest months," she told me. People who live on the North Fork either hibernate inside their houses or flee to sunnier places, she explained. I understood the threat of Novemberthe waning of daylight, the onset of cold weather. But why was March, with its promise of spring, a month to be dreaded? "Spring doesn't come until very late out here," Louisa replied. "In March, it feels as though winter will just never end."
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Clearly, I needed to make some more friends fast. But how? I shared my dilemma with my friend Michael, an artist who lives in Connecticut. Had I ever tried a Meetup? he asked. I wasn't looking for a date, I said. A Meetup, he replied, wasn't about dating but about bringing people with shared interests together. Didn't I remember how important Meetups were in recent elections? They were a powerful political tool. In fact, much of Howard Dean's early success in the 2004 Democratic primaries was attributed to the way his supporters rallied for him via Meetups.