If you don’t already know, Andrew Theophilou has a talent for photographing butterflies. That’s why I chose one of his many exceptional butterfly pics to be our June banner. Thanks, Andrew, for allowing us to enjoy your clouded yellow butterfly for the next 30 days.
While I was thinking about a possible June writing prompt, my friend Gina came to my house to install a Roku TV box. She’s my tech guru and my bestest friend.
The woman we bought our townhome from still lives nearby but in a single-family home with generous front and back yards for her beloved gardens. Gina is also her tech guru and friend. Kathy invited us to see her butterfly garden before Gina started her techie work at my house.
On November 30, 2020, a fierce storm came through our city. The worst damage was in Kathy’s neighborhood where a straight-line wind and a possible tornado tore trees out of the earth and roofs off houses. Kathy’s fledgling garden was destroyed by fallen trees, as was her carport.
After months of repairs, cleanup, and gardening, Kathy finally has her front yard back in shape. Gina and I were amazed at the transformation.
Butterflies were everywhere! Her back yard is not as well established yet but still attracted plenty of colorful butterflies. Her privacy fence is again in place and beautifully decorated.
Our visit started me thinking about neighborhoods and neighbors. Kathy is technically not a neighbor but I think of her as one. In my townhome community, there are some residents I know and others I don’t. Some I consider acquaintances and others I consider friends. But, they are all neighbors.
When I was so ill in April and May, I was shocked and saddened by my “friends” — some I’ve known for more than 30 years — who didn’t check in to see how I was doing. No calls, no emails, no texts. Not a card or a bouquet of flowers. They all knew about my health problems and about my later hospitalization because I sent a few group emails so “friends” would know why I was out of touch and not socializing. Still, not a peep from most of them. Definitely time to reconsider who is and who is not my friend.
On the other hand, my neighbors — none of whom I’ve known for more than 4 years — were my support system, along with Gina who lives too far away to count as a neighbor. The people within walking distance of my home, even those who were only acquaintances, spread the word about my illness and I received texts and phone calls. When Ben walked our dog, people on the sidewalk inquired about my health and recovery. A neighbor who is a retired nurse gave me medical advice and was the one who insisted we call 911 for an ambulance.
While I was hospitalized, neighbors checked in with Ben to see if he needed anything, offered to shop for him, and always inquired about me.
For most of my life, I’ve lived in houses in rural areas where neighbors were acres if not miles away. Our lives were separate, disconnected. Many of them I never knew. Others I saw only on special occasions.
Living in a true city neighborhood in an attached home is a new experience for me. People worry about privacy and quiet in these types of communities but we have both, and we have good neighbors that actually care about us.
I came home from the hospital with a new appreciation and gratitude for our neighbors, and that is the origin of this month’s prompt.
Who are the neighbors in your life? What does being a good neighbor mean? Are you a good neighbor? Are your neighbors also your friends or do you barely know them?
Neighborhood is a broader term than neighbor. What does it mean to you?
What I consider my neighborhood is much larger than my townhome community. It encompasses all the houses, condos, and townhomes that line the boulevard in front of our circle, as well as those a few blocks on either side. Basically, my neighborhood is all the nearby areas within 2 miles where my dog and I walk. Even though I only know a small percentage of those residents, I consider the area to be my neighborhood. A place where I feel I belong and that feels like part of me.
My neighborhood is also all of nature that surrounds my home. Although we are in an attached house, we have a generous space in the back that is thick with trees and flowering bushes with a pathway that leads to the shore of a small, natural lake. Ducks, wading birds, squirrels, songbirds, and other wildlife are my neighbors just as surely as the people who live on either side of me.
I invite all Weeds & Wildflowers to write about neighbors and neighborhoods and what they mean to you. Poetry, essays, photography, artwork — any creative outlet you want to use. I only ask that you use “writing prompt response” as one of your tags.