Lovely Neighbors

I’ve perhaps had one or two mildly annoying neighbors over the past 40+ years; they were the busybody type who kept tabs on the entire neighborhood, not the kind who threw wild, noisy parties that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.  By busybody, I don’t mean simply paying attention to any unusual activity in the neighborhood, but being seriously nosy about people’s personal lives.  Thankfully, I have not had to deal with anyone like that in ~20 years.

Since moving into this house, we’ve met several neighbors, a few of whom don’t even live here year-round.  Of course, there’s our next door neighbor who introduced himself by bringing over eggs his free range hens laid.  Then, there were the people across the street who, on a lark, decided to invite us to their Christmas party, where we met other neighbors.  The people across the street invited us back for dinner a couple of days later, along with a small subset of Christmas party invitees, and would like to go out for breakfast with us when all of us can fit it into our schedules.  We gave them ~half a cord of hardwood firewood as a “thank you.”  Another couple we met at that party came by with Christmas cookies, and generously gave me the recipe for a killer batch of peanut butter chocolate bars, after I sent a “Thank You!” card, politely inquiring whether they’d be willing to share it.

Last year,  we loaned our next door neighbor one of our trailers a few times, and gave him a couple of trailer loads worth of wood chip mulch for his B&B/farm a few miles away.  In return we got a load of cured sheep manure for our veggie garden, plus a gift card for a restaurant he also owns.  None of this was barter, since nothing was agreed upon ahead of time, nor was any value attached to any of it.  Our deal was either “we’re not using it now, so if you need it, sure, you may borrow it” or “we’ve got way more than we can possibly use, so just take whatever you want.”

This year, he borrowed the trailer again, and took a few loads of mulch, of course with our permission.  We had to bring in a tree service with heavy equipment to down a few really large, mostly dead trees, which took them an entire day, but because we told them to leave the wood, rather than cart it off, it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been, and we had loads of tree trunk chunks to split for firewood, run through our sawmill, or chip for mulch, depending on size.  It was the chipped stuff our neighbor wanted.  When he saw our chopping block, wedges, and splitting maul, he brought over his log splitter.  It’s on loan, with the understanding that we’d let him know when we were done with it, or he’d let us know if he needed it back before then.

What more could we want in neighbors?

I’m going to have to invite all of them, plus a few neighbors from our old neighborhood over for a BBQ/cookout once we have the pool open.  Kids/grandkids will be welcome, but I won’t bill it as a pool party.  It’s just going to be a “come as you are” cookout, but not the burgers and hot dogs kind.  It’ll be more like smoked pork shoulder, pulled, grilled flank steak, grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, grilled chicken tenders, appetizers along the lines of cheese & crackers, dim sum type offerings made from scratch, crudités, tortilla chips, salsa, quéso etc.  People get to pick their animal flesh and whatever sauce they want to go with it (sweet & sour, sweet chili, peanut, mild BBQ, spicy BBQ, Buffalo, etc., all made from scratch).  Marinated grilled veggies will go with it, along with the usual cole slaw, and fruit salad.  I’m undecided about baking banana bread, and a winter squash spice cake for dessert, or just getting some strawberries from a local farm that has acres of them, as opposed to our weenie plot, and having a chocolate fountain to go with them.  I have the chocolate fountain appliance.  Rain or shine, we can do this.  If it’s drizzly, we can roll out the awnings over the patio, or bring the whole party indoors, even if the grills are still going outside.  Mostly, this will be an American style BBQ, but the range of Asian and traditional BBQ sauce options will allow guests to make their meal whatever they want.  The main thing is to schedule it for when most invitees are not yet on vacation, and not be over a holiday weekend.

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