Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A to Z "N"

N is for neighbors...

Growing up out in the sticks, we knew our neighbors. Families knew families for generations, and neighbors, as corny as it sounds, helped each other. It lightened the load for everyone involved.

Now, I don't mean that people took advantage, but I will say, we were good neighbors to know because we came equipped with a full out work-crew--what with eight kids n'all. Heck, we could field two baseball teams all by ourselves when it came time for a pick up game in front of the barn.  Okay, the teams were small, but the area was small too. :-) I digress.

It all sounds so cliche, but it's all true. If we walked to a neighbor's house, we knew every person who passed by in a car, and many stopped to see if we needed a ride somewhere.

We'd help neighbors put in hay.  And the some of them helped back. I guess it was tempting for some of them to just figure that Louie had eight kids--he had it covered. :-)

The neighborhood wasn't a street we lived on, or a city block. It went for miles. And we didn't know just the people: we had half an idea bout the animals that lived in our neighborhood. We knew shortcuts cross-country to other farms. And we knew who was genuinely happy to see us, and had a swing or a bench and would sit down and talk to us.  Even when we were little kids.

My favorite neighbor to visit was Mary Frazak. From the time before I was even in school, we knew if we walked halfway up our lane, then cut across a meadow we called the flats, cross the creek, climb onto a large rock, we could carefully step over the electric pasture fence running between our properties. Then we walked up through the "cattle run" --exiting at her barn. We'd stop and pump a drink from the well, catching it in our hands to drink. Then on to Mary's house.

She was a worker, from sun up till sundown, barn, garden, fields. A tough woman, child of Polish immigrants. And I know her stories. I have them stored in my heart, because when she told them they were beautiful and bittersweet--even to a child.

It was a wonderful direction to head to when we had free time. And Mary never failed to stop what she was doing and invite us to sit down with her and talk. I can still see the pidgeons flying from her barn roof toward the field. We'd marvel at the variety of colors. And she had this great old grape arbor, and plum trees and a strawberry patch.

When we headed home, the summer evening was falling on our corner of heaven on earth. A blue mist crept across the hay fields, slipping down toward the valley, toward home, much like us. We beat feet back through the cattle run, wanting to get over the worst of the steep terrain before dark--not to mention to avoid fresh cow patties and thistles-- in our bare feet.. Lightning bugs flashed in the dimming twilight when we stepped over the fence, and the day birds had been replaced by low flying bats.

Looking back, I see a small life's lesson. She was my favorite neighbor because she took the time to acknowledge us, even when we were little kids. And that was in a day when children were to seen but not heard. And she always stopped what she was doing when "company" came.

I tried not to be a stranger to her when the years piled up behind her. She was a delight to visit even into her nineties. I wish we all aspired to be the kind of neighbor that Mary was.

Do you know your neighbors?


  1. I aspire to be the kind of neighbor that Mary was as well. What a great reminder to be kind and generous with our time!

    Living in the city, I have lots of neighbors, but I don't feel as close to any of them as I did to the neighbors I had when I lived out of town.

    1. Dana, I have no problem believing that you are that kind of neighbor! I think you're such a nice person. :-) Thanks for visiting :-)

  2. I am not surprised that you guys were great neighbors. I do my best but sometimes I am not home so I don't get to know a whole lot.

    1. Thanks, Munir! Life gets so busy and I'm ashamed at times when I realize how much time I let go between visits with people. Not being home? We all have to work. All have bills to pay. :-(

  3. I grew up in a neighborhood and I hope someday I can raise my kids the same way. It is such a great way to grow up- in a community!

    1. Thanks--it is. Neighbors, no matter rural, suburban or urban, can be such a good support structure for each other. Thanks for visiting. :-)

  4. Speaking of good neighbors, I sure haven't been one. lol. I apologize for my hermit induced hiatus.

    I have always wished myself to be the type of neighbor one could come to with problems, like Wilson on Home Improvement. ;)

    I've sure miss you, Teresa and the other Six Sentence Sunday group. I'll sure be looking into the new site to post some 8's. ;)

    1. Hey ML! No apology necessary. I've been so busy--and I like to visit your blog. I hope you do join in--even if you just write eight sentences of anything! We (Dana and I) miss ya!