“With nature it is always the bottom of the ninth; nature always has the last at bat” Kevin M..
“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Fred Rogers
The last two days have found me spending part of my time outside and alongside my house, trimming back some rose bushes, fennel, and other plants and vines that I cannot begin to name. I have a bad back and using the cutters, pulling things out of the mess, and piling things into garden bags hurts. So I worked a bit and then took stretching breaks every 15 minutes or so. And it was wonderful. I am not a gardener; my contribution to gardening when my wife was alive was to mulch something, cut something back, dig a hole, here, mow there, etc. And all of this was under her direction. But this time I had to do it myself, and it was very pleasant doing this over the last couple of days. I realized that this was because the break in the weather we had for the last two days meant that I could do something that I had not done much of for the last few weeks: I could be outside seeing and conversing with a lot of my neighbors.
One of the things I love about my neighborhood is that neighbors see and interact with each other very regularly. In the 30 plus years I have lived in West Mt Airy I have had countless conversations and great times with many of my neighbors. We join together for great fun at block parties. We work together in community groups to solve problems. We meet at the coffeehouse in the train station, celebrate each other’s accomplishments, help one another in difficult times, share recommendations about repair people, and much, much more. I cannot walk from one block to another most days or early evenings without having several conversations with friends and neighbors along the way. Asking about kids, talking about music, commenting on the yards, discussing politics and issues in the area, and more. It is one reason I love this area so much. But with the last few weeks of heavy humidity and suffocating heat, I have not interacted with many folks at all beyond a quick,” Hi” and some inane comment about the weather. None of ous wanted to psend time in that hat and that humidity. But being outside Sunday and Monday afforded me the opportunity to spend time actually talking with folks-having real, extended conversations. I learned about strangleweed and what it was doing to the fennel beside the house; how to properly trim the rose bushes; what kids that I had watched grow up were doing now that they were high school students and, (GASP!) high school graduates. What travel plans people had, what illnesses and recoveries had happened..... we just enjoyed being outside together and talking. And I realized how much I had taken those easy neighborly connections for granted. The heat and humidity had deprived me of them, and I had not really noticed until the actions of the last two days.
The heat and humidity will be back; it is a world-wide climate crisis, and it will take coordinated, bold, and short and long-term efforts to address it. And that will not happen soon. But in the midst of all this it is important that I not let those simple things that matter to me slip away. Neighbors, conversation, walking and looking around. I need to remember that these are the small things that make so much of my life worth living. I need to be aware of them, not take them for granted, and remember to hold on to them.