Flashback 4th: Hidy Ho, Neighbor!

by Abby on July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July, everyone! While I’m off celebrating at the neighborhood block party, hope you enjoy this post from my archives:

Hidy Ho, Neighbor!

RaccoonI ran into my neighbor the other day. “Sally” has been having terrible problems with raccoons breaking into her house. I could commiserate, since we had a whole family of them living in our attic a while back. Ah, the joys of homeownership!

So Sally told me that the night before another neighbor had heard a strange noise and looked out the window to see a fireball hurtling down from the sky above Sally’s house. Turns out, the raccoon had chewed through an electrical wire, CAUGHT FIRE, and fallen in a smoking heap in Sally’s backyard!! (You can’t make this stuff up, people.) Adding insult to injury, she had to arrange for the raccoon’s charred remains to be removed. I didn’t even know there were people you could call for that!

I would never have learned of this bizarre incident if I didn’t know my neighbors. Can you imagine? I might wake up one night to a strange screeching, sizzling noise and NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.

There was an interesting article in Parade magazine a while back about neighbors. It mentioned how in certain parts of the country people are bucking the trend of favoring privacy over community. According to social scientists, neighborhood ties today are less than half as strong as they were in the 1950s, writes Peter Lovenheim. For this he partly blames the trend towards suburban “McMansions,” huge houses set back from sidewalk-less streets that further isolate neighbors from one another.

While we live in a city, quite close to our neighbors, it’s only fairly recently that we’ve gotten to know many of them. We attended the occasional block party or BBQ here and there, but it was the blizzard of 2010 that really cemented our relationships. We all had to band together to dig out of the 3+ ft. of snow that marooned us in our houses. A neighbor hiking to the store would offer to pick up some bananas for us. Another hosted a potluck supper, and another helped us push our car out of a snowbank.

Some new people have moved in, families with young kids like us. We pass each other on the street pushing plastic cars and strollers. I’ve gotten to be good friends with the only other stay-at-home-mom on the block. She’s been a GODSEND, I tell you. We have watched each others’ kids when one of us had to rush a sibling to the doctor. We get together for impromptu movie nights and splashes in the kiddie pool, and we commiserate over glasses of wine while our kids play and our husbands work late.

The best thing? It’s easy. I don’t have to make complex arrangements to schedule a playdate with a kid across town that will likely be cancelled at the last minute anyway due to illness. I don’t have pack up diaper bags and lunch boxes and drive somewhere. The kids have built-in playmates and I have a friend I see more than once every 6 weeks when the stars and schedules align.

NeighborsIt makes life a lot less lonely, too. An elderly neighbor once remarked that while you used to see people around all day long, now the street clears out by 9 a.m. My MIL tells me that moms in her neighborhood used to get together for coffee while the kids played in the yard. Wow. Socializing that doesn’t require signing up for high-priced, “enriching” children’s activities and forcing the baby to skip his nap!

I admit, it’s nice to have other adults around to talk to during the day. Ones who share their tomatoes and can tell you how to get your azaleas to bloom. Ones who will lend you a bicycle pump and bring in your mail when you’re on vacation.

And especially ones who can warn you to watch out for electrocuted raccoons falling from the sky.

So what about you? Are you friendly with your neighbors, or are you strictly on smile-and-wave terms?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello July 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

It may be from the archives, but, your post is certainly a timeless one. Where have all the neighbors gone?? We lived in California for 7 years before moving to Charleston, SC and we tried our best to find and know our neighbors, but, between Major League privacy fences and folks just not wanting to know you, it was really hard.

Our friends in California were the folks from the health club, we had a regular group of about 30 people that showed up every week day at 5:30 am and that became our circle of friends. We had parties together, hung out together at bars for a late afternoon Happy Hour Social and just did stuff together. We have been in Charleston for 12 years, but, still stay close with our California friends.

Our neighborhood in Charleston is in Mt Pleasant across the Harbor and we know most everyone on our street and there are about 6 of us that have been here 12 years or more and we watch out for one another, watch the kids grow from young middle schoolers to college graduates, get married, etc. We go boating together, have Holiday dinners together, and just enjoy being neighbors.

Having friends is really important for so many reasons, having neighbors that are friends is like finding a treasure that just keeps giving. Cultivate those neighbor friends, they will be lifelong kindred spirits for you.


Abby July 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm

You are so right, Lou, that having neighbors as friends is like an added bonus!


Kim July 5, 2011 at 10:23 am

I always get to follow Lou Mello in the morning 🙂

It amazes me how different neighborhoods are across the country. I think I’ve lived in over 12 states now, and each time our neighborhood is different. In some we wave and try to approach our neighbors to get no responses, no invitation to converse, no friendly wave back. But in others we become friends, sharing dishes, picking up newspapers during vacations, and generally feeling close. I bonded recently with a few neighbors over some raccoons oddly enough. A mother and her six babies kept coming into our yards, rolling back our sod and eating the grubs underneath. We set traps and got them and had them transported to a forest 30 minutes away, and fortunately everyone’s yards have been better for our kids to play in!


Abby July 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Yeah, you’ve gotta get up pretty early to beat Lou! 😉 That’s so funny you bonded with your neighbors over raccoons, too!! The pest that brings people together…


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: