Have I mentioned that I live in the most fantastic neighborhood in the world? Well, I do. We live in a cul-de-sac with six houses and there are no other neighborhoods very close by. Each of our neighbors has at least one acre of land on which their house sits. We are lucky enough to have two and a half acres and part of our land borders a creek. Two other neighbors also border the creek, a protected salmon-spawning creek. What this means is that we are strictly prohibited from messing with the natural order of things (pruning, planting non-native species, killing wild animals we see, fishing, etc.), and are almost mandated to teach our children about this wondrous place.
Between the six houses there are five stay-at-home moms, eight dogs, and seventeen children whose ages range from nine months to 15 years old. Two of us have large vegetable gardens and share our bounty with the others and three years ago my Mother's Day present was the installation of my dream herb garden. Every summer as it starts to grow uncontrollably the girls and I head out to cut herbal bouquets for each household and after we've tied them with pretty ribbon, the girls deliver them to everyone's doorstep.
The quiet street lends itself well to bike and scooter riding since there is never any traffic that isn't one of us. The dogs play together in everyone's yard and we're all responsible for picking up the poop. We put Band-Aids on each other's children and we all have pantries stocked with Goldfish crackers and fruit snacks in case someone is hungry. We know which kids are allergic to dairy and wheat and the box of 150 Otter Pops I bought in early June is nearly gone, thanks to the kid-accessible freezer in our garage and the scissors permanently placed on top.
We all have each other's cell phone numbers programmed into our own and have all received and placed frantic phone calls to a neighbor when we are stuck in traffic to ensure that someone will meet our child at the bus stop. There is always someone around to take your dog out for a potty break when you're gone longer than you expected, and hand-me-downs are our sole source of new school clothes.
This afternoon we are having a more formal (I use that word lightly) get-together involving all of the families to celebrate the summer break. The theme is "food fight" and the invitation instructed us to bring something to wear and something to share. Hmmm, methinks the children were allowed to design this particular party, but we'll all be there, pelting each other with gloppy oatmeal and whipping cream and laughing while my neat-and-tidy daughter takes photographs of us (no chance she'll throw food today) to embarrass us all years from now. Later, we'll cover our kids in bug spray, give them flashlights and send them off to play hide and seek while the adults open some wine and sit by the fire pit to recall the other crazy things we've done in this village we've created. Ooh, don't forget the lawnmower races or the jam-making assembly line from last summer....