Friday, September 23, 2011

Thank goodness for neighbours!

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Hubby and I have lived in many places - St. Catharines, Toronto, Hunstville, Trois-Pistoles (QC), and now 4 different neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

What we noticed about our past experiences was the lack of community - although we met a select few street-mates who we really clicked with, these pockets of homes where we spent our days seemed to be missing something. There was no one to call on for a cup of sugar, few people who greeted us every day, and no real sense of safety.

After we had A, we realized that a good community was really important for us. I felt isolated in my little apartment, and being a New Mom with no family around is daunting.

We moved to Orleans over a year ago, based on the fact that some of Tom's family live nearby. We knew this would make things a bit easier on us, as there is always someone to call in a pinch. I have never wanted to live in the suburbs, and always imagined myself renting a great little apartment somewhere close to the city core. I don't like the idea of suburbs, with their mile-upon-mile of cookie cutter homes and lack of small businesses.

But the day we moved into our home, people from all around came over to introduce themselves and help with the heavy lifting. Our cousins and aunt/uncle are part of this group, but even more than great family here, there are good neighbours.

What makes a good neighbour?

Someone who takes the time to stop and talk to you, even when you're all in a rush to get out in the morning

Someone who puts your garbage out when they notice you've forgotten

Someone who leaves fresh produce and baked goods on your fence!

Someone you feel comfortable asking to look after the place while you're on vacation

Someone who will "call in the troops" when you've lost a pet, been broken into, or experienced some other kind of loss

We lost our dog the other day, and she has been returned to us safetly, thanks to some kindly neighbours who found her and turned her in. We not only feel grateful to them, but to all the people who (some not even knowing who we were!) scoured the neighbourhood for the little pug. I was imagining a hit and run, animal cruelty or even someone taking Darcy and deciding not to return her. Man, have I ever become cynical!

It saddens me that many of these "good" neighbours are older - what is it about our generation, which seems to distrust so much? Why do we go out of our way to avoid our neighbours? I see other Moms walking down the street with their children, and I long to stop and talk. But my reasoning for not doing so is that I am just "bothering" them. That somehow they will be annoyed with the fact that I want to have a little chat.

Our generation needs to reach out again. Our neighbourly instincts are being lost in this era of anxiety and fear, and nothing is getting any easier for families this way.

So here's a little challenge to you all - go out and meet one new neighbour this week. Find out more about them - you'll be surprised at the kindness and generosity you will find in others.


  1. So happy for you that you found Darcy. We have incredible neighbours too and we never want to move because they make living here so wonderful.

  2. This one got my tears aflow. There is a lot of good truth here. I think our generation over-valued independence. Check us out - we can do it all ourselves! I remarked the other day how difficult it is to farm without family nearby. I have underestimated the new family we have in our neighbours (often 10km away though). I am constantly reminded of the option to ask for help - but I have it so ingrained in me to do it all myself. So dumb. So dumb. I think the key is to remember that equality is not always the goal - so often we think helping others should expect something in return or that asking for help means we owe people.

    Perhaps if we could remember how to live with our hearts, and not on a tally or score system all of the time, we would feel safer and more at home wherever we are.

    I'm thrilled to hear that you are getting what you need in Orleans. And that you had help in a crisis with your dog getting away. You're one step in the right direction it sounds like.

  3. You are so right. We really need to reach out to neighbours more often. It's sad. I did something crazy this summer and contacted a neighbour that I knew had a son the same age as E. Now we enjoy weekly play dates at the park together. I felt silly leaving her a note - but so happy I did it :) So happy to hear that your dog was found!

  4. @Emmanuelle - can't wait to see where you live!

    @FFM - I would totally have assumed farming communities were tight, but I can understand the difficulties when people are so far away. We definitely need to start living more with our hearts :o)

    @Alicia - good for you! I'm about to do that with a Mom I've seen who lives right down the street. She's from the Phillipines, and I don't think she has many friends around

  5. Good neighbours are priceless. I think with our lives so full and busy it can be hard to connect as we rush from place to place. I love that some of our neighbours sit out on their porch in the evening. It is an easy way to see each other


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