Saturday, October 22, 2011

Neighborly Neighbors

I would like to be more neighborly. You know, helpful, available, and friendly. I would like the same of my neighbors. And so when a neighbor calls out to me as I walk out to my mailbox to check the day's mail, I gladly approach him in the hope of engaging in a neighborly conversation. I am a slow learner.

Generally speaking, when that neighborly conversation takes place my hopes and expectations are dashed. Instead of a pleasant conversation about something that matters, it usually degrades into a gripe session about my inability to control the acorns that fall from my tree and an implied question: "What are you going to do about that tree?" Or an attempt to rally me to the cause of forcing another neighbor to move a van that has been parked in a driveway for "too long." Not long ago, it was an attempt to have me join a petition to block plans to bring east-west light rail trains through my neighborhood. To be fair, that last one was not an attempt to completely block the plan; it was an attempt to shield the neighborhood from the riff-raff and noise that surely would come from the route as planned.

Yesterday, my next-door neighbor flagged me down as I approached my mailbox, once again I allowed myself to be hopeful. This time, it paid off. Not in spades, mind you, but the conversation did not degrade into a platform for complaints. He told me he had put out traps within the last few days to catch "something" that had been bothering him. I didn't get details of the bother, but it was "something." He caught two possums. He called animal control to come get them, which they did. While they were here, my neighbor mentioned to them that he had seen a coyote and watched it cross the street from my yard to a neighbor's driveway, where it sat and stared at him for a few moments before wandering off behind the across-the-street neighbor's house. And he told them he'd heard there have been sightings of bobcats in the area.

These things, these sightings of wild animals, concerned him. He has a litter of several small children so I can understand his concern...a little. But he keeps the beasts inside his home for the most part and does not let them wander the neighborhood, so I doubt he has anything to worry about. What impressed me was the fact that he called animal control services instead of bludgeoning the possums to death. I like that in a person.

Back to being neighborly. My wife has an idea she plans to pursue after her retirement in a few weeks. It may help establish a more neighborly connection with our neighbors. Her idea is to have a "happy hour" every Friday afternoon when we're in town, to which she will invite neighbors and friends. All they need to bring is themselves and, if they wish, some snacks to share. She will make happy hour drinks. Each week will be something different. One week she might make mojitos, the next it might be sloe gin fizzes, the next it could be just a glass of white wine. She has a vague idea of "theming" the events so the drinks coordinate with the season or the nearest holiday or something like that.

I hope it works. I hope our neighbors come out and we develop some good, neighborly relationships.

If we discover that none of our neighbors drink alcohol on religious grounds, we're moving!

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