It does take a village. When I was younger and in my single days, I didn’t make as much of an effort to know my neighbors. I wasn’t around the house a lot, and lived in apartments and rentals where neighbors came and went.
Little did we know when we moved into our house on a quiet cul de sac 5 years ago, my husband and I lucked into a great community. Our first sign was when our neighbor asked if we would mind if he helped us unload our moving truck. YES, you read that right! And of course we didn’t turn him down.
Slowly, we started to get to know the great folks that live on our street. Then, we had our son and I started spending more time at home. Taking walks, admiring gardens, starting conversations…I was surprised to find out quite a few people were around during the day or during the weekends. We fed a neighbor’s fish in her pond when she went out of town; the boys next door started taking care of our dog when we were gone for the holidays. The days of wondering who was having a dance party in the apartment above me were gone.
A few houses went up for sale on the street and two couples moved in. One semi-retired couple had the idea to have a block party. Everyone was asked to bring a covered dish and homemade invitations were placed in mailboxes. I learned funny stories about former residents and learned the other couple who moved in were expecting. I sipped some of the yummiest lemonade I’d had in a while.
These block parties became seasonal occurrences. Sometimes they commemorate birthdays, births or other occasions, or just mark the passage of time. In the interim, discussions arose about sprucing up the island at the end of the cul de sac, close to where our house is. We split the costs of buying mulch and one of the neighbors built two benches and tables. A basketball hoop completed our shared outdoor living room. I still remember my son pulling up on that bench, blowing bubbles…and many days you can find one of the neighbors on one of the benches, reading or chatting or just taking a break.
Although we get busy and no one spent much time in front yards during the brutal summer heat, emails circulate when someone is going out of town so we can keep an eye on the house. Another baby will be joining the block parties early next year.
All it took was a little push by a new resident to get the ball rolling — and some folding tables for the first block party. Sometimes it’s easy to forget your community starts right in your own front yard.