Being Neighborly


Jen UbelakerWe've had an incredibly light winter in the Pacific Northwest and it's allowed us the opportunity to work on our property a lot more than we normally would. Without the usual snow and ice we are missing any excuse to not work on our projects, so we're spending a lot more time outside and since we live in town, “outside” means in full view of the neighbors.

We are really lucky that we ended up with fantastic neighbors. They are lucky that we moved in next door to provide them with limitless entertainment. A few weekends ago we were catching up over the fence while I was rebuilding a woodpile and Hubby was digging a wildflower berm in the alley for the bees. We were explaining the day's work to our neighbor and told him how we hoped everything would work out and he grinned, telling us, “If it doesn't work out, it won't be for lack of effort, that's for sure.”

When I first started cordoning off sections of the yard for garden space, the neighbors on both sides showed a lot of interest. The previous owners of the house let the backyard grow into a waist-high jumble of weeds. Our neighbor “J” even bought a cherry tomato for her yard so we could “farm” together. It was a beautiful day in early summer when we shared baby tomatoes over the fence and swapped neighborhood gossip. It was the first time our new place really felt like a home.

Since then, I've also heard talking in the backyard and peeked out to see her weeding her side of the fence and carrying on a conversation with one of our chickens through the chain-link. They have a bond that I don't question.

The neighbor on the other side belongs to a food co-op and when she gets her delivery she takes all of the wilted/dinged vegetables they are throwing away and brings them home for the chickens. Every other week a mystery box of chicken yummy winds up on my porch, and we thank her with eggs.

My hubby and our neighbor “D” talk 'man stuffs' a lot and swap tools and stories. When our ancient lawnmower finally gave up the ghost I talked Hubby into purchasing a reel mower. It was another noteworthy neighborhood event. Hubby has fallen in love with the mower because he can mow as early as he wants on a morning without disturbing anyone, and he can wear headphones and listen to music as he does it. “D” laughs and tells him our yard looks as pretty as theirs with a power mower and were we trying to put him in an early grave? Now his wife would want one too.

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