Our Homeowner's association planned our community's very first annual picnic, and held it at a nearby park 2 weekends ago. It was something they had talked about for a couple of years, but it took this year's board to actually put it together. Fortunately, the neighbor who mows our lawn let me know about it before the actual mailing went out, and I was able to arrange my schedule so we could attend.
About 40 families were represented, though more indicated they would have attended had they not already had other plans. The Board duly noted this and has promised to get an earlier start next year. I took my camera, but never did take a photo--I guess because it's too large to be discreet about the photos and most of the folks there were strangers to me.
One of the doggy moms I've met has a small catering business with her husband, and they did the food. It was all very informal, with our choices of hot dogs, burgers, or sloppy joes, a pasta salad, potato salad, beans, sweet tea or lemonade, and peach cobbler. No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed. Folks seemed to congregate with those they knew, but there was a lot of mingling and meeting going on, too.
It was fun putting faces to houses. Last summer and fall we watched as a couple did a lot of their own work clearing a lot for a modular to go up. We have seen them plant flowers and a Japanese maple and put in a driveway, and I got to meet them, but now I've forgotten their names again. Next year, maybe we should wear tags with our addresses as well as our names.
One of our neighbors, a pastor, made the rounds, as did the local real estate agent. We found out what the range is for homes in the area, and the info on a street that just appeared in neighborhood a couple of years ago. Apparently it had been planned there all along, but never built until someone bought a couple of the lots.
One of the gentlemen in my neighborhood has been my patient in our hospital more than once, as was his wife, and she died less than a year ago. I was able to give him a hug and hear about his upcoming plans to visit children and friends in Colorado and Oregon.
In describing where we live, which is a corner lot at two major roads in the neighborhood, I found out I am known as "The Halloween Lady" by most of the kids and their parents. I love it! But it does add to the pressure to at LEAST do as good a job each year as the one before, if not better. Hey, I have a reputation to uphold! Traditions to maintain!
One lady made the rounds gathering names for a community yard sale, which will be held on the 9th of August. I don't hold yard sales anymore, just shop them. About once every 2-3 months I take a box or two to one of the local donation centers, so I don't have enough to really make it worth my while. But in the interest of community spirit, I believe I'll set up a table or two in my driveway and read or stitch the time away.
Another of my neighbors was widowed about 18 months ago, and I told him I'd be happy to put stuff out for him in my yard. I don't know if he's up to going through things, or even if his children, who live out of state, have sifted through their mother's belongings yet. He may not have anything to sell, he might have already taken boxes to donate; I don't know. It would have to be hard, though, to have strangers handling your dead wife's possessions, even if you don't want them anymore.
We weren't the last to leave the picnic, but close to it. In most of the neighborhoods where I grew up, the adults all knew each other and each other's children. It didn't matter what adult told us to behave, we'd better do it, or we'd regret it when we got home. It also didn't matter which adult was around when we scraped our knees rollerskating down the sidewalk. They were all good for a bandaid, or a glass of water, or a grassy lawn on which to lie after a rowdy game of Swinging Statues.
Now that we've had the chance to get to know each other a little better, I'm hoping to see more of that neighborly spirit here in our little community. More friendly waves and less speeding through. More dogs on leashes and less running loose.
And I hope the children know they can knock on The Halloween Lady's door if they need a bandaid or a glass of cold water.