Spring brings back neighbors

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By Sarah Berkshire

The start of spring brings so many things back to life. Wildlife. Flowerbeds. Playgrounds.

But my favorite part of early spring is the return of neighborliness.
Not long after Halloween, my family and my neighbors on Park Avenue in Elizabethtown call out to each other, “See you in the spring.” And we mean it. All winter long, every morning and every evening, we’ve hurried from our cars to our homes, heads down against the bitter wind. Other than a quick wave or a Christmas greeting, we keep to ourselves through those cold months.

During the past couple weeks, with a warm afternoon here and there bringing us outdoors, we’ve snapped back to our sociable selves.

Now, just home from work, that quick wave turns into a stroll across a yard or two to catch up. There are new dogs to meet and children, who have grown so much since October, to see.

As is the case in most neighborhoods, we have gathered at the fence lines or in the backyards. We announce plans for landscape improvements — in my case those feel more like promises — and talk about our families.

We have started grilling again, which always triggers a conversation about the best marinade.

Probably unique to our neighborhood, we have watched a certain neighbor cast a rubber spider attached to a fishing line and reel it across our yard. Our boys chase it, squealing with joy.

Under a blue sky, we visit.

That’s something I remember my grandparents doing — I still remember the names of their neighbors. I remember the next generation doing it less. I’d neglected it all together during the just-out-of-college apartment days.

Many times, people lose that neighborhood feeling. They keep their heads down no matter the weather, stay inside their privacy fences, keep a front porch just for show.

Some of us are just private people, and that’s fine. Most of us are busy people, and that’s fine, too.

But I, for one, have found the few minutes it takes to get to know your neighbor pays huge dividends.

Whether they chase your kids’ nylon tepee down the street in a wind storm or entertain your older child while you bring the new one home from the hospital, neighbors look out for you. Whether they leave something from their garden on your porch or tell you the best way to divide an overgrown day lily, neighbors have something to share. Once you know them, neighbors give you a sense of community, and that’s a great feeling.

I admit, I’m guilty of not getting to know farther-away neighbors. I know the closest ones and a few down the street. This spring, I should say hello. I already know it only will make us more at home.

Sarah Berkshire can be reached at (270) 505-1745.