Ponder this:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Neighborhood


I'm just back from my walk in the brisk fall air. The sky is blue with lots and lots of fluffy white clouds scudding by up there, soft gray underbellies smoothed off by the wind. I feel that there is something so sweet about this time of year; the world is so beautiful in a sentimental way. I took my time on my route, not so much because I was feeling slow, but because I wanted to prolong my reason for being out on the dirt road, walking through the alternating tree shadow and bright sun, smelling the scents of cow manure and fermenting corn blown from upwind fields.

I passed Old Frank on my way out. He was trimming the grass around his house. I kept watching for an opportunity to wave, but he didn't look up. On my way back, he was trimming close to the road, so I stepped up next to him, my shadow providing silent notice that he had company. Frank is old: I don't want to surprise him too suddenly. This must be my weekend for conversations with wise old men. He and I had a short political discussion during which both of us complained and neither of us committed to one presidential candidate or the other. We talked about the price of gas, and the questionable value of a college degree, and he confirmed for me that Neighbor Bob has moved out of his house that he built with his own two hands. Bob has one of those horrible diseases, not uncommon, but variable in its victims' symptoms, and he can no longer bring in firewood, plow the driveway, mow his lawn. His wife is not sturdy either, so they've moved west to live nearer relatives. I asked Frank if somebody had bought the house.
"They don't have it for sale yet!" he cried. "There's a lot I could say, but . . . you know..."
Frank apparently feels something's amiss in the arrangement, but he wouldn't criticize his neighbors even if they aren't his neighbors anymore. Frank is a wise old man.
He said, "I collect sayings . . . y'know, I'm old and . . . one of them is 'You can't teach common sense.'"
"We have one we use often at work," I said. "It's 'You can't fix stupid.'"
I don't think we were talking about Bob and his wife. We might have been, but I think we were simply expressing our general agreement about the rest of Those People Out There Who Aren't So Wise As We. Lucky us: we're so smart.


Last night Husband went out for his second walking turn of the day, and just as he reached the end of the first lap, the skies opened and the rain came down in sheets. A car stopped and the couple in it offered him a ride. They were people who live two and a half miles away from us on another dirt road. We didn't know them, and they didn't know Husband, but they took in a soaking wet man and brought him home.

I love where I live.

15 comments:

Hilary said...

It sounds like you're in a beautiful place, June. I live in a suburban neighbourhood where we all know each other quite well.. friends who happen to be neighbours (how one guy on the street put it).

Now Frank and I are looking to move to the country and I wonder if we'll ever find that closeness with neighbours again. Your post gives me hope that we will.

Carolynn Anctil said...

I have a feeling my new home will be very similar. I'm eager to try it on for size. I love the turn of words you've used today - you've painted a lovely picture.

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Loving your stories June! Mine are not so jolly for the moment, so im keeping quiet.

Joanne Noragon said...

It's good to still have Old Frank. I wonder how he will handle needing help. I'm sure he would have accepted a ride home.

Retired English Teacher said...

I love where you live also. I love the way you are connected to the earth, the sky, and to each other. I loved the wisdom of your people. I wish I lived in a less urban area for those very reasons.

I agree with your observations on life and the folks we live and work with, but I especially love the way Neighbor Frank expressed his sentiments.

Rebecca said...

I love where you live, too! I had a similar chat with our little unincorporated town's postmistress. There's certainly something wonderful about "small"...

And unfortunately, Old Frank's right! "You can't teach common sense".

Rose ~ from Oz said...

Your writing gave me that gentle reminder that 'ordinary' is really extraordinary.
(I'd forgotten about 'Death by Chocolate'- yes!)

Olga said...

It is lovely to be able to have that kind of trust in fellow human beings just because they are neighbors.

Pauline said...

Love this post, where you live, old Frank. I live in a similar place but Old Frank is Young Marshall and I am the old one. I dare not walk along the road, someone will stop to see if I am OK - I think I really am seen an 'old' by my neighbours. And that's fine by me.

DJan said...

How beautifully written! I seem to have joined you on that walk, and I too am glad that Old Frank is still with us, even though I only know him, and your world, through this blog. He still is a very solid presence. And what good neighbors! You are blessed indeed.

Friko said...

Quite the philosophers, you and Frank.

All that outdoor activity is doing you (and him) good. Fresh air is ever so conducive to meanderings of the mind.

Tom Sightings said...

Agree, great perspective . . . it's better to be kind than smart. Especially at our age!

Barb said...

I love where you live, too, and I love your musing about it.

Barbara Torris said...

Oh this is so wonderful. I want to meet the OLD man. He is my kind of guy. thank you.

b

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ZielonaMila said...

Fantastic photograph, a superb view. I am greeting