Neighbor Talk

Like snowdrops emerging, the warming sun this week has drawn neighbors outside and allowed us to chat without freezing for longer moments than in previous months and weeks. I could not resist crossing the street and yard boundaries to see what was happening in others’ lives.

The Hispanic neighbor across the street was raking up large pine cones fallen from her tree. I asked how she was doing, and she began to tell me how glad she was that under our new administration, children on our southern border were being reunited with their families. “Imagine” she said, “if your child had been ripped away from you!” I could feel the deep emotion from this grandmother who regularly takes loving care of her little granddaughter. She further commented on the thousands of Mexican and other immigrants trying to cross into the United States, shaking her head, but finally concluding that it’s OK because where they come from, their governments do nothing to protect their lives, whether from COVID, gangs, or other threats.

The neighbor beside her, who speaks no Spanish, then came over and asked me to translate. She wondered if she could have some of the pine cones to make little gnomes. All winter, that neighbor has kept herself busy making crafts from things like toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and other items people usually throw away. I never heard her complain about boredom. However, she told me she does not plan to get vaccinated as she is not sure it will help when other viruses come along. She emphasized that she did get her flu shot.

The neighbor to the south was outside sweeping his patio. He said, “It’s been a long winter!” He had just taken his children, for the first time this spring, to their favorite summer swimming/wading place by a river at the foot of the mountains. One of the children said, with shining eyes, “We walked in the river!” I imagine it was frigid, but have long ago concluded that those children have all weather skin and can be seen outdoors in snow, rain, hail–no matter what!

The neighbor to the south was happy to report that, as a worker in an assisted living facility, she was glad to have received both jabs. However, she acknowledged the pain of having eleven of their residents die of COVID. Half of that number seemed perfectly fine and able to walk around when they were suddenly stricken with the virus and succumbed. She also lamented the way politicization of the virus has separated families, her own sisters continuing to support Trump and his falsehoods, thus making rational conversations with them nearly impossible.

Hopefully, as more people get vaccinated, which seems to be happening rapidly, the doubters will see what a difference vaccination can make in the collective well-being of our communities and country. We long for the time when the ravages of illness and politics will be left behind and people can emerge, like the snowdrops, to create a spot of life and beauty wherever they live.


  1. Clearly one of your gifts is listening carefully to people and seeing them each as unique individuals. Knowing what a person cares about is knowing their deepest self. You do that well.


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