Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hello neighbor

Have I ever mentioned how much I love our neighborhood?

When we were students, we had no idea this place even existed. It wasn't until we moved back here from the D.C. area that we discovered this part of town. We pretty much searched for houses based on schools, figuring that as long as we liked the house, the school was good, and the neighborhood was safe, everything else was secondary. We weren't indifferent, but we were coming from a large impersonal D.C. suburb, where we'd had some pretty bad experiences with our neighbors, so we were not about to get our hopes up that things would be different.

Luckily, this neighborhood has been very good for us. It's the sort of place that people want to live in.

The neighbors are friendly. They wave as they pass in their car or stop to talk if they're walking.

People take care of each other here. We visit those who have just moved in. We bring food to those with new babies, serious illnesses, or deaths in the family. We have keys to each other's houses, keep an eye on things when people are away, and give rides to the airport. It's a place where people are involved in each other's lives. Coming previously from a subdivision where our nearest neighbor actually encouraged his son to shoot fireworks at our house, we feel like we're now living in utopia.

We have all kinds of neighbors -- newlyweds, families with children, couples with no children, empty nesters, and retirees. There are teachers, police officers, university professors, doctors, architects, and just about every other profession you can think of. We have most major religions here, including some that are at war with each other in other parts of the world, but not here.

Our neighborhood is aesthetically pleasing too. There are mature trees everywhere, so my morning walks are shady and green. Most folks here garden in some way, even if it's just a few simple pots of flowers by their front doors. Other people have gardens so gorgeous and colorful that I'll stop and stare in awe. In the spring, we are surrounded by pinks, lavenders, and pale greens. In the fall, the trees are a riot of reds, oranges, and golds.

Our neighborhood is mostly comprised of homes from the 1950s-1970s, but there has been some recent infill construction, which makes for an architecturally-interesting place, as opposed to one of those newer developments where all the houses are variations on the same theme and stick within a narrow range of colors and materials. There are around 900 homes, but you'd never know it, as it feels smaller and cozier.

Our elementary school anchors one end of the neighborhood and the city high school is on the other end. In the fall, as we walk the girls to school, we can hear the marching band practicing, which adds a bit of rhythm to our journey.

Our neighborhood is very hilly, which makes for a lot of ups and downs and therefore a lot of huffing and puffing when walking. One of the highest elevations in town is a few blocks from us and one can see the mountains to the west. Our house is on a hill at the top of a hill. The city's largest park abuts our neighborhood and, from our front porch, we have a marvelous view of the July fireworks.

Pete and I would like to one day build a sleek modern house; however, our love of our neighborhood has kept us here in our little colonial. It's a cute house, the right size, and it fits our needs. There are a few undeveloped lots scattered here and there, so maybe one day we'll buy one and build our dream house. We've also considered buying a mid-century ranch and renovating it to our specifications. No matter what, however, we're happy where we are. Content.


MizMell said...

Sounds lovely.
And I think the huffing and puffing of hills comes with Virginia landscape.

Jen (not the Jen) said...

Other than the fact that we are in a street of 6 year old houses (we bought new), that sounds very like where we live.

The local MP, the local GP, a childminder, some teachers, some lawyers...everyone helps each other, when I had my son, everyone in my street knew before my parents because they were crowded outside! (Yes, I had him at home, against my will, but if you want THAT story, email me!) We live a few streets from the school and I do love it here. I can see that when the kids are a bit older, I might want a bit more privacy, but for now, I love it.