Sunday, September 05, 2010

Neighborhood Beautification

He should have been wearing a trench coat. The knock on the door always jars me. Opening it to see my neighbor I expect the normal request to borrow money. Nope. “Do you do a lot of shopping,” he asks. In response to my confused look he counters, “I have this friend that will sell you forty dollars worth of food stamps for twenty dollars. All the neighbors are partaking.”

Cindy is in good shape for fifty-seven. She waitresses at Carrows. Her garden inspired the planting of my rose bush. She waters her garden in bikini, but sometimes in silk dress; depending on if she wants to dress up. Currently she sleeps in her backyard (her bedroom is being redone.)

Wednesday I came home to find Cindy digging a trench in front of our houses. “You missed it,” she says. “The clouds opened up and poured rain. It was raining and hailing. I’ve never seen hail like that here! Another minute and it would have been running into our houses.” I asked, “How long you lived here?” “Since 1974.” So when she says she’s never seen hail fall like it did in this flood it carries some weight. So we spend the last hours of daylight digging a trench in-case the floods returned.

Sunsets are awesome in the high desert. I step outside to catch the colors in the sky and find ‘Junior,’ the two-year old playing in front of my house, no parents in sight. “Hey dude isn’t that an awesome sunset,” I ask, pointing to the sky. Junior isn’t very articulate. I go on to spend a small chunk of time with the kid chattering on about rocks and colors in the sky. Junior now runs to greet me every time he’s outside.

Junior is a child at risk. His mom is a teenager. He’s being raised by grandma and grandpa-who are maybe forty-years old. All live next door. All four have different colored skin. I gave grandpa James a drive to work and heard more of the story. Grandma had an affair and broke up with James. Subsequently she went to jail, was released, went back to James. The teenager is hers—but I’m not sure she’s his.

Cookie came to my door one night begging me to call 911. We wave to each other now and talk about roses. Since I’ve planted my Ingrid Bergman she has decided to begin planting flowers again.

The coffee-cup saying is to ‘Bloom Where You’re Planted.’ Christ’s words are more sobering, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Time to open that front door and connect with our neighbors. God will supply the means; a call to 911, digging a ditch or raising a rose bush. It’s up to us to reach out and connect beyond that. Then to enjoy the resultant bright blooms our neighborhoods.

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