Essay – Neighbors

We live at the end of a cul-de-sac. We don’t actually live on the cul-de-sac. Instead, you drive to the end of the cul-de-sac then go up a gravel driveway a quarter-mile to our house. For the first few years when we lived here, none of the neighbors knew we were here. They didn’t know there were any houses up here.

Most of the houses on the cul-de-sac share a well. Last summer, we were invited to the neighborhood association party. It was held outside, and most everybody was masked. It was nice to meet our neighbors for the first time.

We knew some of the neighbors already. The neighborhood has a Facebook group. A couple of the people in the cul-de-sac raise chickens, and sometimes they post, “Hey, does anyone want any eggs?” In addition, one of the neighbors is a serious gardener. Every year, when she starts thinning out some of her flowers and plants, she posts that she has extras if anyone wants any. I have some beautiful Columbine, as well as some irises, from her.

Over the last few years, most of the houses in the cul-de-sac have been sold by their original owners and new people have bought them. New people with kids. So the nature of the neighborhood has changed significantly. Instead of being a bunch of old people, like us, it’s all young people with families now. Out of the dozen or so houses in the neighborhood, there are now only four original owners.

One of the delightful things that now occurs in our neighborhood is a friendly competition when it comes to Christmas lights. The weekend after Thanksgiving everyone puts up their lights.

I will admit that lights on houses is one of my favorite things about the holiday season. My husband and I will go drive around some of the more posh neighborhoods in the area just looking at Christmas house lights. There are a couple of neighborhoods nearby where there appears to be a serious competition about who can put the largest display in their yard. We’re talking Santa and his sleigh on the roof along with an entire elf workshop in the yard, and snowman, and the three wise men with their camels, etc.

We do not put up any special lights for Christmas beyond putting up the tree in the main house. What we do have are tree lights that come on every night all year round. I have one set of lights in a pine tree next to TH1, and a second set around the tree just outside the door of TH2. (I was looking at the lights in the pine tree next to TH1, and realized that I put those up many years ago. The tree has grown and I’m not sure I could reach the top lights anymore even with a ladder.)

I love my tree lights. They are on timers, so they come on at dusk and then stay lit for a few hours. I feel as though they bring great cheer to the yard. They make me smile every time I look out at them or when I walk around the yard at night trying to get my steps in.

My husband and I have considered inviting the neighbors up for a barbecue at some point. It’s been difficult because of the plague. We will go to next year’s neighborhood association get-together again. And when we have things to share we post on the Facebook group.

More than one of the people on the cul-de-sac work or have worked as general contractors. When there is snow, it becomes a competition between them as to who can shovel all the snow out of the street first. We like having these kinds of neighbors.

I have friends who are either participating in or choosing to be a part of a planned community. When Blaze and I leave here, I don’t know whether we will try to find something like that or not. In the meanwhile, we were lucky enough to move someplace with good neighbors. Hopefully our next place, we will have the same.

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