Friday, August 15, 2014

Neighbors - Weston, MA

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I am sitting here this fine morning eating berry crisp. It's delicious, and more so as it is 7 am and it just feels like a guilty pleasure (and 5000 calories). The crisp was not made by me since I am a true disaster at two household areas--baking and gardening. Oh, and ironing. Not so great at cleaning either. But I digress. The crisp has a longish story that accompanies it.

Two weeks ago a gorgeous yellow labrador suddenly appeared in our backyard as if materializing straight out of a tree. Very Harry Potter. My son and I ran outside and he ran to us and we played for a half hour with him--throwing a ball, petting him, my son body-hugging him. His collar read "Finley" and showed his address to be four houses down the road. It finally occurred to me that we were dog-napping and we walked down the street to return him.

When we walked into the driveway of a very large yellow house, arguably the prettiest in the neighborhood with a big red barn in the backyard, a young woman came out and greeted us and told us that Finley had escaped from "quarantine"--he had had surgery a while back and was not supposed to run around. My son and I looked at each other and said "ummm, well, we might have played with him a little bit." The young woman (turns out that she is the au pair) said she had to get back inside because there was a child sleeping. My son reluctantly left the yard--that boy needs a dog. A young dog. We have an old dog. Who is still in Brazil.

Later that afternoon when I was out with the kids, BH said two kids came by to thank us for returning their dog. I peppered my husband with questions--how old were they? Which school did they go to? Where does the bus come? BH answered that they looked a little bigger than the twins and that was all he knew. Sigh. As my mom would say "oh, mens."  

Every day my son asked if we could visit Finley. We walked by the house several times, too shy to ring a doorbell, but hoping we'd see someone around. We saw kid toys, a badminton net, but no kids. But then we had Neighbor Day yesterday. I love Neighbor Day. I moved back to the US for Neighbor Day.

Yesterday had already started well--the kids were off to the local farm for the third and final day of Amphibians Camp. They had actually become amphibians after a hard rain the whole day on the second day. I went to get my Massachusetts drivers license, which was less painful than I expected (though not a lot), visited the Community Rowing mega-complex on the Charles River to find out about going back to rowing, and headed home. Once home, I walked out the door, up the street and into the woods. We are surrounded by conservation land here and the trail network goes for miles. 

After picking up the kids at camp, we dropped by the grocery store to recycle our cans (not my favorite US experience but the kids love it because they get to keep the money) and ran into our next door neighbor and her 9-month old daughter. A quick chat then we got our money and our sushi (the kids love sushi--even supermarket sushi. I really can't figure out why recycling the cans is always a money-losing proposition. We made $1.75. Kids had $20 of sushi).

When we got home, I saw that the neighbor in front was out gardening. The labrador-loving kid saw that he had a huge black lab with him. We ran across the street. The neighbor is a lovely man in his 80s, a small twinge of a Scottish accent still with him, and we talked about neighborly things. The lab belongs to his son--Colby is 14 years old, staggers like Caju used to stagger, and is a gorgeous black bear. The neighbor suggested a pellet gun for the woodchucks--he had one in his yard the size of a cocker spaniel. Yikes.

While we chatted, the neighbor we had seen at the grocery store walked by. More chatting. Then we went inside to snack the sushi (not me--4 pm is a bit early for me), then set up the bird bath and decided to take a walk through the neighborhood. And bingo.

There was a little girl playing in the backyard of Finley's house. My two boys ran around the house and flushed like beagles the father and three boys from the backyard. Two of the boys are older--10 and 13--and one is younger (6). The girl is 2. Should I feel a bit sorry for this little girl with three older brothers? Wait, no, I feel sorry for any boyfriend she may ever bring home. 

The mom came out of the house as well and she said she was about to start an online writing course but she invited the kids to stay within about five minutes of us arriving. The kids played soccer, on the giant swing, in the woods, in the grass, in the house, and were still invited for dinner. And to stay later. One of the big boys would walk them home. From five houses away. Probably no American who has lived in a slightly sketchy place can understand the elation that I felt last night. My kids walked home, in the dark, with older kids. 

And I got a huge piece of berry crisp to take home with me. And I did. For breakfast.

A great Neighbor Day. To be celebrated every single day.

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