Very few folks put neighbors very high on the list. There are some intentional communities, and some folks do choose to live next to family, but can you imagine? "Hi, I'm thinking of moving in two houses down, could we chat? I'd like to know who my neighbors will be the rest of my life?"
Then, you go ahead and make some good neighbor friends - and they move away. You'll still be friends - "Read my blog. I'll look for your pictures on Facebook." But they are not physically there. We've been a highly mobile society for a long time now.
Do you know your neighbors? If they may be in need? Traditionally, February is the lean month. Winter supplies are low. O.K. - my immediate neighbors do not need food or heat. But, the lights have been flickering, school has been cancelled more than convened, roads are slick, and the sparse winter sunlight is filtered by a low blanket of clouds.
Is there someone who
cannot get out - and could use some canned goods or toilet paper?
needs some snow removed?
needs help with child care when school is out, but work is required?
needs to get to a doctor's appointment or needs a medicine refill?
could use some help caring for outdoor animals?
needs fuel (wood, coal, kerosene)?
would appreciate a hot shower if electricity has been out?
hasn't been able to get out, and could chat for an hour?
has been at home for weeks with kiddos and could use an hour of alone time?
has been at home for weeks with kiddos and could use a cup of coffee and a chat with another adult?
is sick and could use a pot of soup and some bread?
is experiencing the first winter for someone without their partner?
Some are needs and some are plain kindnesses - and there are many more examples extensions of comfort and good-will to get us all through February - this lean month. If we are in a position to offer kindness or comfort, why not?
Our driveway is impassable for all but the 4x4 blessed and those willing to get towed out of the woods, but yesterday, our small house was full to the brim with friends who parked at the bottom and hiked the still-icy hill - children running ahead and babies bundled. Adults bumped into each other, but were mindful of the knee-high toddlers. Older children took their plates to the playroom and were happy to sequester themselves in there and the kids' bedroom. Except for the occasional crash, we heard little from them, so happy to see others their own age after weeks of cancelled school. We came together to honor mutual friends - and it is a tribute to their lovely selves that so many braved the conditions - but we agreed that although we could have faced February alone - the emotional bolster friends provide was more than worth a slippery, cold walk!