Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Now, at the end of February, after an April-like December, it's finally snowing. Have you ever noticed that when you are shoveling snow in front of your house, pick-up trucks with plows attached to the front rev their engines as they go by? It seems a little smug to me. I don't expect them to stop and help, but really, do they need to rub it in?

I've decided I actually don't mind shoveling, but I like it better when it's a little more communal. Too bad people don't walk over to their neighbours' and help each other out with projects like this anymore, like they did during barn raisings and stuff like that. Maybe they do, somewhere. Not in this neighbourhood.

I don't know my neighbours. They don't know me. One time the lawnmower died on me and I marched over to the guy next door and asked for help. He was proud to put his knowledge of lawnmowers to use. But I haven't talked to him since. That was over a year ago. Also, every time Roommate-Sarah or I do any sort of yardwork, he comes out with his loud yardworking gadgets and works on his yard, too. This strikes me as an attitude akin to the revving snowplows.

Since we've been doing this Forty Days of Community thing at church, it has occurred to me that I can be a little more proactive about community, though, even if I never do really get to know my neighbours. There are couples in my church whom I would like to get to know better, but I keep waiting for them to invite me over for lunch or something. I'm a single person. Apparently, single people don't host families. But why not?


Mark Goodyear said...

This reminds me so much of the stuff I read on Al Hsu's blog, The Suburban Christian.

If I were that guy, I think I would be trying to have community by working alongside you. A bit awkwardly perhaps. But not dishonestly.

But then, maybe it is just chest pounding.

(Also, love the Dave Eggers quote. I used to subscribe to McSweeneys... once upon a time.)

Heather said...

We don't know anyone in our neighborhood really, either. We invited one of the couples to dinner once or twice, knocked on doors at Christmastime with cookies, the usual. But no one ventures outside their house except via the back garage. Like we're all in the witness protection plan.
Chris has been throwing the idea around of moving. No, no! I said for many reasons. But he drove me through the neighborhood where he wants to move. Several people had chairs in their front yards and were chatting! Sign me up!

Craver VII said...

So invite yourself to someone else's house. Just do it. It's easy:

"You know, I was just thinking. You haven't had me over for dinner with your family." or...

"Do you like lasagne? I think I make a decent lasagne, but I wish I could get someone else's opinion..." (smile and wait)

The key is to set a date. Plus, it helps to wear a big grin on your face. Don't settle for "Yeah, we ought to get together sometime," because it doesn't mean a thing. Ask, "When?"

If you're willing to do some work, ask a few of your neighbors whether they would be interested in doing a block party? Then organize it.

Jenn said...

Mark--Apparently I should read Al Hsu's blog more often. Thanks for the different perspective on my yardworking neighbour. I hadn't thought of that . . .

Thanks, too, for reminding me that I keep meaning to look up McSweeney's. Have you read the book from which the quote comes?

Heather--there are neighbourhoods like that? Really? In this country?

Craver--I used to do that in London. For some reason I have this idea that that doesn't really fly in this cultural milieu, but maybe I'm wrong. (Also, I sometimes find it hard to know when you're joking. Or maybe I mean I assume you generally are.)

Annelise said...

I was interested in Mark's comment about the neighbour possibly trying to have community alongside you. Since I know the neighbour (!), that observation may be right on. I think he's shy and awkward, and I know he's a bit odd, but it would be interesting to see what happened if you worked over and said hello(if he turned off his machines long enough to hear you, that is!).

Craver VII said...

Sometimes the truth tickles, too. How do you know that there are not more people in your geographical community that find themselves wishing they had Heather's prospective chatty neighbors?

If you encounter a recluse, what's the worst that could happen? They go back to the way it was before... nothing would be lost.

Ah, but if they are kindred spirits, you would be the one to usher in blessings to your neighbors.

...Just try to do something about that hair of yours.

Jenn said...

Mom--you might be right. But that leads to other issues revolving around impressions given by single women to single men in their age-group--and awkwardness when there isn't actually any interest.

Craver--hey now. I'd like to see what would happen if you grew YOUR hair long. Anyway. Maybe I like it like this.

Annelise said...

I agree that with this neighbor there might be some other issues.... Loved your St. David's Day reminder--I thought of you this morning! Glad you got to see Wilberforce; not sure if it's coming to this part of the world....

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