Thursday, November 15, 2007

Good Neighbors

My husband is Type A stubborn. That's why he waited for three days after his heart attack to drive himself to the hospital. And that is also why, nine years later when he suffered a stroke, he was able to recover enough to walk again. It is also why he won't give up looking after his lawn.

Now he has no interest in gardening. The flower beds are totally up to me and that's okay. But he will fertilize, treat for weeds and mow his lawn from Spring through Fall, often to the point of exhaustion. That's the Type A stubborn part. He used to be fond of saying,"no pain, no gain" but that kind of thinking only gets him into trouble these days.

We have had an unusually warm Fall. By this time in November the leaves should be a memory. By last weekend, still half of the trees were holding on to their leaves. We had filled four leaf bags from the front yard before we left for California the last week of October. We filled another four bags when we returned in November and I had just purchased another 35 bags to fill on the weekend. And 35 bags may not have been enough. We had a lot of leaves and Al had blown them all to the front curb. We hadn't even started to tackle the back yard. Al was out there every day, blowing leaves into the curb pile. In the process he suffered an angina attack which compelled me, naturally, to remind him that he just can't do what he used to do, and which compelled him, naturally, to agree until the next time he goes out to work in the yard.

Come Saturday, we were preparing for a day filling those dreaded bags. Mid morning the doorbell rang and one of our neighbors was offering to remove the leaves for us. Al was politely refusing the offer and I was politely refusing Al's refusal. Fortunately, the neighbor and I won out. Now this neighbor is a true blessing. In addition to the offer to remove the leaves at the curb, he also got up on the roof and removed the leaves there. Then he borrowed a gigantic leaf blower and, along with Al, removed all of the leaves from the back yard. Another neighbor and his very young son joined them in the afternoon and whoosh! the leaves from the curb were disposed of as well.

The men at our end of the street used to gather forces every Fall for a cooperataive leaf blowing/removal effort that would clean up the whole cul-de-sac. As neighbors moved away and some neighbors, like my husband, "retired" from such physical activity, the tradition has been abandoned. That's what happens in the aging of a neighborhood.

We are forever grateful for the generosity of neighbors who show up ready to pitch in and help, especially when we can no longer reciprocate. So I do what I can: I bake them apple pies! And Al is out in the yard again today, blowing more leaves into yet another pile by the curb!

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