“A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” (-Arthur Baer)
At the end of our back yard, there is a walking trail that in one direction rambles down to a bucolic stream, and in the other, wanders up to a pond. The mere existence of this trail expands our definition of “neighbor.” While it’s a very quiet spot, we’ll often enjoy watching a lone jogger, bike riders, little boys seeking out tadpoles in the stream, or couples just out for a stroll. The area is also a haven for ducks, geese and rabbits. It’s great entertainment to observe the world going by in our tiny corner here.
There are those we think of as the “chronics,” whom we see every day and would miss if we didn’t. In this category is a diminutive Chinese couple who pass by and wave to us in the morning and again late in the day. The woman appears to be less than 5’ tall; the man, slightly taller. She works close by in a tailor’s shop, and he walks her to work and then home again at the end of the work day. We tend to think we know these people who enter our world on a daily basis, but we only know them by sight. Once or twice, as he was returning from walking his wife to work, the gentleman has stopped to chat with us in our garden. I would never have guessed his age as being 85. While not limber, he is definitely young for his age. He wears a baseball cap and carries a distinguished cane. I asked him his name, and in his broken accent, he told me it’s “Woodrow Wilson.” I still do not know his wife’s name.
Another of the chronics is our friend Paul and his dog Ginger. They also traverse this path twice daily. Paul is an older man who struggles with Parkinson’s disease. He told us that walking Ginger is what keeps him going. He doesn’t hear well, but loves for us to chat with him if he comes by. When I told him our names were Joe and Sue, he said, “Oh, I know that.”
Perhaps our reputation precedes us and we just don’t know it. I sometimes mentally conjure up lives for these people we wave to, but I have to admit, it never really occurred to me that they probably do the same for us.