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.