Monday, March 10, 2008

Close Encounters of the Suburban Kind

I woke up yesterday morning to the sound of a lone shovel, scraping against the unwieldy blanket of snow that had buried the driveway next door. A mirror image of my very own driveway. Peering through my window, I watched as our neighbour tackled the impossible task, knee deep in snow under the brilliant shining sun. That glorious sunshine almost mocking him with its intensity, as he stopped to take a rest every couple of minutes. He was making very little headway.

But as he stood taking another break, surveying the remaining terrain he had yet to conquer, a group of three men walked toward him, with shovels in hand and a snowblower in tow. They worked together and had the driveway cleared in about 15 minutes.


*******


After our snow service did the basic clearing of our driveway, being the weird oxymoronic Type A/slob that I am (heavy emphasis on the moronic part), I felt the inexplicable need to kick off every single remaining offending snowflake that still resided on the premises. Or maybe I felt guilty that I had been snowed in, and had pigged out on chips and banana bread with my kids for three days rather than go to the gym. Needed to do something part-way physical. That, and the other inexplicable need to impress my husband by clearing the drive before he arrived home from Belgium, prompted me to head out myself later in the afternoon. The children had decided to stay in, despite my earnest pleas for them to come out and enjoy the sunshine with me.

The problem with the glaring sun in not-so-cold temperatures is that it creates packing snow. Perfect for making snowmen. Not so perfect for shovelling.


During one of my many heavingly-coughing-wheezing (I'm a non-smoker, I swear) resting patches, I witnessed an older woman walking along my quiet street, shopping bag in hand. Can I tell you how unusual that is on the best of days, let alone just after a snowlashing of almost record-breaking proportions? The lady, bless her heart, stopped and commented on what a great job I was doing on my driveway. Humble-me fessed up right away and admitted that I was only cleaning up the remnants left by the dratted works department. But she understood and still plauded my efforts. She agreed that it's better if it's all clean, rather than deal with the sheet of ice that will certainly follow the great melt. And then we had a nice conversation about her grandchildren and their visits with her every summer, staying just around the corner from us. I could feel the curious stares of my children through the front windows as I was chatting.


When I went back inside, the kids jumped on me right away. Who was that, Mommy? Do we know her? Where does she live?


I suppose it is natural for them to be curious, a bit apprehensive perhaps. These types of exchanges don't happen very often in these here 'burbs. And certainly not involving their mother. I'm the posterchild for ISTJ; I'm the neighbour who drives her minivan into the garage right away and shuts the door behind; who you only see occasionally popping out in the spring/summer, maybe in the fall with her kids. The Dad is the one out talking with the neighbours, watering the garden, raking the leaves. Because the black-thumbed Mom is in the house blogging.


*****


These incidents remind me a bit of what it was like to live in the city. That neighbourhood feel that has been eluding us for the few years that we have been up here.

I think things may be looking up a bit in suburbia.

15 comments:

Ed (zoesdad) said...

I don't know why I own a snow blower. Every time we get enough snow to use the thing, by the time I get out there it's packed solid and I end up using the shovel. Kudos to you for shoveling--my wife would never and I do mean never be caught with a shovel in hand. (Unless she's handing it to me.)

kailani said...

Change that minivan to a SUV and you could be talking about me. I'm not very social with the neighbors but my husband can stand outside and talk to them for hours! LOL!

rockmama said...

Man, do I miss snow! Where I grew up in Maryland, you could count on at least one big storm a year, but it rarely ever gets it's flake on here in the UK. Luckily, we live near one of 5 indoor snow domes in the country and try to get on our boards every few months for some trips down the artificial hill. :)

dkuroiwa said...

Here...very few people have actual garages...mainly we have carports so it's almost impossible to hide/avoid/ignore neighbors. I learned a long time ago that if just spend 5 minutes talking about trash day/how hot or cold it is/the kids on their bicycles in the middle of the street/how tired Mr. Sato looks these days...then I can go in with, usually, a smile on my face and everyone is happy!!! Though...somedays, I really wish we had one of those garages with the door to the house on the inside.....

Ginaagain said...

I'm a classic suburban hermit but I feel guilty about it.

Don Mills Diva said...

It's amazing how such insignificant encounters can make you feel so connected - always makes me vow to reach out more often...

another good thing said...

It's true that we often feel uncomfortable in our own yards. I'm more apt to talk to total strangers in the grocery store than my neighbors. I wonder why? maybe because it might lead to asking them in or inviting them to one our wild parties...

OHmommy said...

black-thumbed Mom is in the house blogging.


LMAO.... that is funny.

It will be 50 degrees this weekend. YAHOO!!! I can't even imagine what that feels like.

That was a sweet story.

Kellan said...

I think my kids sometimes have better social skills than I do. I do okay, but boy do they have a bunch of friends. I've gotten to where I'm better - over the years - but it is true of neighbors - sometimes you just park your car and go inside. It was a good story Karen! Have a good day in the burbs! Kellan

Rima said...

I think we could totally be friends IRL, except that we would never actually meet because we'd both be inside blogging.

Sandra said...

We spent 2 years in the burbs and I remember feeling that loss of neighbourhood feeling at first until some unexpected encounters like yours changed my mind.

Nan Patience said...

I was a city dweller in my formative years (teens, young adult years), and now I live in a rural/almost suburban area. Boy! Can I relate to your sense of strangeness.

anthonynorth said...

I was brought up in the countryside, with community. Then I lived many years in a city. Moving back to the country several years ago reminded just what city people miss.

Rachel said...

You make me laugh.
Good job for getting out there and doing it, even if it's the leftovers! I love that other people came and helped your neighbor, that's wonderful!

Dina said...

i do hate that fact about suburban life...not knowing your neighbors. My SIL and her hubby live in Forest Hill and they KNOW all their neighbors, i mean they actually have street BBQ's and invite each other over for birthday parties...i don't even know ONE persons name around here...

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