On the street where I live

I live in a lovely street with wonderful neighbours.

When the restrictions allowed four people to get together, three of my neighbours and I caught up for a Sunday pre-dinner drink, a check-in. We practised social distancing, of course. We all brought our own drink and nibbles so no needing to move around or touch the same food servers. I brought opera glasses! All the better to see you with!

It was wonderful to have a laugh and a chat; so uplifting and so needed in these times of added stress. We planned to do the same the following Sunday. But the laws changed to only allow one other person besides your family.

One of the lovely ladies, let’s call her Lovely Lady No 1, made dinner for my family and me during the madness of last term. She said it was the only way she felt she could help someone who was working extra hard during COVID. She said I looked exhausted and The Dreamer looked dead on his feet. (The Dreamer worked in a chemist and was doing huge hours during the madness of the binge buying. “Was doing long hours” because the chemist has since stopped all shifts for casuals and won’t apply for government assistance so he is out of work after 5 years with them.)

Lovely Lady No 1 organised a letter drop with contact numbers of people who were willing to help if anyone had difficulties or was quarantined.

Three of us walked down to sing happy birthday on the lawn of another neighbour who turned 50 but due to social restrictions couldn’t have a celebration. We took cake and gifts for her. No guesses who baked the cake and organised us. Lovely Lady No 1.

There’s always people out and about on our street: walking, gardening, bike riding, pottering, checking out what people are up to. It’s surprising how many people you can connect with, without leaving the street.

When I was gardening this week, one neighbour brought over some seedlings and cuttings.

Another neighbour helped out Mr S this week when he was examining the tree planted on the verge last year by our council. Some microscopic bugs are eating new shoots. During the long, hot, dry summer, Mr S watered most of the trees planted by the council on our street. He’s not much of a gardener, but he loves the trees. The neighbour popped over with some white oil and sprayed the trees.

Late afternoon on our front porch is a favourite spot for Mr S and me: our time to watch all the walkers, with or without dogs, and all the goings on. People often stop at our gate for a chat. The white oil sprayer told us about a bush track that we didn’t know about and on which we ventured the very next day. Local knowledge is so handy.

There’s still many people we don’t know in our small street. A townhouse development next to us seems to have people who come and go, which often happens in rentals. Still, we were surprised and heartened by the gift left on our front porch by one of the families in the townhouse right next to our house who we haven’t met.

Several of us have put up teddy bears for kids going on “Bear Hunts” with their parents. I rescued three from the council kerbside cleanup and shared them amongst neighbours. (Understandably, none of us wanted to leave our own or our children’s bears outside.)

I must admit, Mr S and I are very chuffed when we see bears peeking out of windows on our walks. I can’t help but sing, “There’s a bear in there…” (the theme song from the longest running preschool TV program in Australia) rather than the song “We’re going on a bear hunt”. Lots of the bears were decorated for Anzac Day too!

The last Saturday of the break was Anzac Day. For non-Australians and Kiwis, it’s a day of deep significance, almost sacred, as we remember those who served in war. With social distancing in place, there were no ceremonies, no marches, no wreathlaying at the memorials. The Returned Services League asked Australians to “Light up the dawn”; to stand on your front driveway with a candle at dawn in commemoration. We joined the many in our street who did just that. The four houses opposite us decorated their driveway and set up a speaker to play the speeches and service that was broadcast from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Afterwards, one neighbour who is in the navy, served spiced rum to warm us up.

11 thoughts on “On the street where I live

  1. I showed my daughter the photo of the stuffed animal and she immediately said “Is that Super Bunny?” She has one that looks identical and went everywhere with her when she was small. Super Bunny had super powers (obviously) and could protect her from all harm. He also could fly and frequently saved the world from disaster. He still sleeps on her bed. Why do kids insist on growing up?

    • I look at my boys’ photos from when they were under 6 and they are so cute. And it all seems so long ago yet strangely not so long ago.

      Super bunny has super powers. And is protecting all on our street. And bringing a smile to our face. Tell your daughter he lives on.

  2. I’ve been interested to see the art done by kids for Anzac day – poppies made from patty pan papers. I liked the solemnity of the Anzac day, vs the boozing and biffo that often occurs.

    Your neighbours seem tops. I was close to two neighbours in my building but then one moved out (to her BF’s in Manly) and the other is quiet – we did go out for a walk and coffee together. I set up a group text with the few neighbours who’d put up offers to help, but it’s not really taken off 😦 I suppose when you don’t know people, you’re more self conscious to contribute to a group chat maybe?

    • Next year or maybe for Remembrance Day, I think I will make poppies out of the bottom of drink bottles. Saw it on YouTube. I think connection based on residence is harder for young and flat dwellers who tend to rent. Too mobile and transient. The neighbours I am friendly with connected over opposition to a development. We’ve all been here 12 years plus, some much much longer. Other houses have renters who come and go. Though there are a few who don’t want to mix with us, and that’s fine. We are not “their people” and they are not ours.

  3. Your friendly street reminds me of the two streets I grew up on (we moved when I was 10, but in the same town and the second street was just as close). On both streets, we were a tight-knit group, both adults and kids, and there was always something going on, whether it was swim parties for the kids or everyone decorating their home for the holidays or special treats for families that just had a baby. You could always count on a neighbor if you needed help. I don’t think any of us appreciated how great it was until we didn’t have it anymore. Thanks for jogging these memories!

    • Lovely safe memories for kids growing up on connected neighbourhoods. My boys always know someone will tell me they’ve seen either of them somewhere. The youngest is really connected to the area as he also works locally.

      • I am still friends with people I played with before I started kindergarten. We had a little reunion back in 2016 and all of us had such lovely memories. One guy though had stayed on the street longer than others and filled us in on a few scandals that occurred after we left. The boy in the family that lived across the street from us (a year older than me), always a bully and a bit dangerous, is still doing life in prison for murder! His mom and sister (she was my age, and a close friend) packed up and disappeared one day – apparently the dad, a police detective, had been abusing them for years, so they left when he was at work one day and no one ever learned where they went. None of us had had any idea at the time that it was going on.

  4. What a lovely friendly street – we have had such a change of people in the last few years and only my next door but one neighbour and my friend up the road are originals on our cul de sac. Most people are out a work and seem to be out at the weekend too -not many are gardeners or they can afford to have a gardener so you don’t even get to know them through gardening. Cute little bunny – next doors children keep hanging their crafty makes on the tree outside. We have birds this week.
    If that is your house you are sitting outside of then it is lovely and you must get a huge amount of light indoors from those big windows.

    • So sad when people you know and like move on. I think it makes a neighbourhood more a community and safer when you know your neighbours and stop and chat. Little happens around here without someone noting it passing details on.

      Not my house. A neighbour’s. Though we have lots of light with French doors. Mr S and I prefer less light – too bright and hot for much of the year.

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