Thursday, November 04, 2010

My Neighborhood

At 7:26 this morning my phone rang as I was making sure the kids had their shoes on to leave for the bus. Wondering who would be calling so early, I answered to hear the voice of a woman I know and like from the bus stop. She said: 'I was wonderin' if you wanted me to pick up Bella since it's pourin' outside.' (She has a sweet Southern accent.) I had no idea it was raining, but I would have figured it out quickly when we had to walk to the bus stop in the rain and then stand there for 10 minutes until the bus came, Fiona in tow. Even with an umbrella we would have been soaked without a car to wait in. I leapt at her offer, thrilled. I was so touched that she would remember us, that I didn't have a car, and that we would be waiting in the rain. If the situation were reversed I don't think I would have been so considerate. A small gesture, but I was moved. 
Such are the people in the South, in my neighborhood.
A couple of weeks ago the people on her block organized a block party and Rick invited us, even though we are kitty-corner to their street and not technically on their block. They rented a bounce house for the kids and set up a little station for them with toys and chalk.
I was smitten by these weathered, love-worn old wooden toys. I adore and greatly value handmade toys, and these were obviously well-made and well-loved. It turns out that Rick made them, which didn't surprise me. Everyone in the neighborhood knows Rick. He has an old beat up red truck that is often found all over the neighborhood, parked outside the people's homes he is working on at the time. He is a general all-around handyman and good guy.
He's a sweet grandpa who loves my children. Of course Fiona loves him, and seeks comfort and solace in his arms. During the party, I would look over and find Fiona starting to fuss. Before I could even make a decision of what to do, Rick was there sweeping her up in his arms. He proceeded to hold her and dance with her for about a half an hour. When I decided it was time to go, he walked us back to our house, holding Fiona the whole way.
After admiring the handiwork of his toys he took me into his basement to show me his enviable shop and the toys he makes. He skillfully makes trucks, cars, trains, and pendulum cradles- all without nails and screws, beautifully constructed with dowels. He makes all of these toys and goes to the hospital a couple of times a year where he donates them to the pediatric cancer patients. Somehow I was not surprised.
{Fiona cramping Truman's style}
Last weekend was our neighborhood Fall Festival. There were organized crafts, games, lunch and snacks. It was held down by the pool and the playground. I love that I can let my kids play as I watch from a distance. Fiona was wanting to swing (as always) and again, before I could even approach, some neighborhhood girls had placed her in the swing and were dutifully pushing her. They even know her by name. The same happened at the block party, when another girl picked Fiona up in the bounce house, jumping with her to keep her safe.
 Teenage girls volunteered to man most of the stations at the festival, helping the children with whatever they needed.
I love my neighborhood. I love that it feels like a community. I love that for the most part, people look out for each other. Most people wave to one another. Last summer our next door neighbor Dan mowed our lawn when we were in Utah for 3 weeks. He frequently edges our lawn around our house and mailbox because we don't have an edger. All of these things are done unrequested, and often without recognition. People have parties, we stop and talk on the street, people patiently let my girls pet their dogs, they know their neighbors. Whether it's the South, or North Carolina, or Charlotte, or just my neighborhood, I love it.
I am really grateful for my neighbors.


Jill said...

Your neighborhood and neighbors sound so nice, what a blessing!

Diana said...

Your neighborhood sounds amazing. I am so glad you found the house you did,so perfect for you.
Thanks for sharing this side of your life with us :)

michelle said...

This is amazing. I think I love Rick from afar, and that photo of him holding Fiona speaks volumes.

Miranda said...

Wow, your neighborhood does sound truly wonderful. Those toys or gorgeous! I'm so glad that you're embracing the generosity and feeling like a part of your neighborhood.

Petey said...

I think that is one of the reasons the south feels like home to me. I love that people know each other and are kind and helpful and want to do things together as a community.
It's good for the soul.

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