Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bottles of Wine Make Good Neighbors

A bottle of wine and puffed clouds strewn across a pink sky. And a trio of boys scootering up and down the sidewalk in bare feet.

A couple of weeks ago, on one of the last carefree days of summer, I joined my neighbor on her front porch. Our boys - dirty and happy yet not quite tired from their last day of summer camp - buzzed up and down the sidewalk, swinging up occasionally to run into one of our backyards or to collapse on my neighbor's lawn to catch their breath.

Almost in tandem, our husbands returned home from work. One emerged with a bottle of local wine. The other with a couple of glasses. Eventually, the sun tucked between the two story homes across the street, taking the last vestiges of daylight with it.

Finally, we dragged the boys in and to bed after darkness fell. After the wine was gone. Dinner cold. A set of Thomas trains richer. With good friends next door.

Getting to know your neighbors doesn't have to be difficult. It doesn't have to be formal. Or even planned. So often, I have thought that it would be hard to meet neighbors. That I would need some sort of event to draw us closer, to pull people from the television sets. So often, others have expressed the same feelings. People are nice, but not in their own neighborhoods, they lament. Or they haven't gotten to know anyone where they live and it's been 4 years. For me too!

But I find that just being out front is often enough to get a connection going. My front yard garden, my exuberant boys, a runaway cat - those are all things that break the ice. That, and a bottle of wine and a pink sunset.

So grab a bottle and out there. Be a good neighbor.


Joyce said...

I grew up in a neighborhood with front porches and kids playing in the street 'til dark. I agree; it seems like being out there in the evening was the way to naturally know everyone. Now we have no front porches, and everyone has a "privacy" fence. Isn't that too bad? When we had to replace our rotting 6' high fence years ago, we put in a 4' one. Suddenly we had over-the-fence neighbors to chat with while we did our yard work. Sure they could see what we were doing out there. It wasn't exciting, I can tell you that. We gave up the privacy for some lifelong friendships (and people to borrow a cup of sugar from in a pinch!).

Bugs and Brooms said...

I love the picture! And the idea of close neighbors is a dream of mine - something that I deperately miss from my hometown. We don't really have neighbors now but hope to move to a new community soon. Being out in the country is wonderful but the relationships with neighbors can be very rewarding!

CindyW said...

That sounded fun and relaxing. You can't beat a glass of wine with friends on a warm evening. Those are the small moments in life I truly enjoy.

I have a few neighbor friends that don't hesitate walking over to each other's house to have the kids play together, to unload a stressful day, or to borrow a circular saw. It has increased my virtual real estate value a great deal.

Lisa Sharp said...

I lived in two different nice neighborhoods before this one. Had lots of friends in both growing up but now the story is much different. Maybe when we move I will have that again. We do like one neighbor but he is never home.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Yeah, but what do you do if your neighbors are wacko? Or don't speak the same language or are never home? Or any number of other issues?

Domestic Accident said...

I have really nice neighbors. We just don't interact much. I'm going to have to try the bottle of wine thing.

Green Bean said...

Joyce: Great description of what you get when you give up a bit of privacy.

Bugs: I feel like there is always the give and take between country and city (or suburb) life. Not sure which is the right answer. They both have big pulls and draw backs.

Cindy: It really makes life a lot more enjoyable. Most of us don't live close to family. Connecting with neighbors can ease some of the aloneness.

Lisa: I hope you end up with some nice neighborly relations at your next home.

Chicken: Well, I can't help you there. I've got my share of crazy neighbors but maybe there's some one - across the street, down a few houses . . .

Domestic Accident: Life is often so busy. A bottle of wine is a nice way to slow it down some.

Donna said...

We live on a busy street, almost not in a neighborhood at all, but we still have friends on one side, wackos on the other, and disagreeable lawyers over our back fence. It's all part of life, I guess. Good for you for reaching out.

Going Crunchy said...

I found that I had to be the one in our cul-de-sac to get peole going. I waved at people, made small talk. I have tons of riders and outdoor physical toys (all secondhand) that I drug out. Suddenly I'm the hotspot in the neighborhood and we all know each other now.

My next door neighbor, and now good friend, had to realize that you don't have to be the same to be friends. She is conservative, I'm liberal. She is Catholic, and I'm...well...several things. It is a matter of getting people out of their boxes and interacting.

I resisted getting to know people for the first two years of living in this house because I didn't want to make those connections because I didn't want to live here. At all. I wanted back to my mountains! And if you put down roots then you might feel connections.

I realized that I cannot live without those connections, and it is a "love the place you are with" kinda thing for me. I especially needed women friends here in my physical space, not just in a virtual world. There is a power in female connections that helps your heart.

So I loved your post GB! Once I began forming my circle, getting involved in my neighborhood and church I felt much more connected to the world.

I think that our fluid society also prevents us from social connections to a certain degree. We move, change, commute so frequently now and true connections take time to build, as well as personal trust. Shan

kale for sale said...

I live in a condo and share the backyard with our neighbors. And their two kids and big dog. You can't get much closer to your neighbors. There are certainly some challenges and absolutely some joys. And it's nice to know that if we need a hand there's an extra one available and vice versa. And that they have an extra key for those times we get locked out!

Abbie said...

I'm fortunate in that my cousin lives next to us. Although we don't see much of eachother due to our work schedules, we both know that if we ever need anything, the other is there. When our well pump was not working, she offered to let us shower at her house, which was great!
However, through a thin layer of woods on the other side, I have crazy neighbors. I went to school with their kids, who have since served time in jail and moved back home. One day last summer, I spotted a son (who is my age) and his girlfriend NAKED in the back yard. At like noon. Just walking around. I guess they didn't know I was home, but I should hang a sign or something that says "Caution: Teacher may be at home during the day in the summer. Don't walk around naked, please." Somehow I don't see myself becoming close with these people.

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