Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

The weekend finished up nicely. Last night some friends came over for dinner and we had the first cookout of the season. Flank steak, turkey burgers and dogs. Steamed asparagus, baked french fries and Ina Garten’s fabulous pesto-pea salad. This salad rocks. All it is is spinach tossed with regular old frozen peas, pesto, parmesan and toasted pine nuts. Garlicky as hell and sooooooooo good.

Today was a nice day. Jeeps took Panda to swimming and came back with one of my nephews. The weather had been calling for rain all weekend which never manifested itself. It would get cloudy and sprinkle a little, and then the clouds would break up and move on and the sun shine down. So the kids were outside playing baseball with Jeeps and I had my fingers in the dirt as usual.

Along on a walk comes Amy W. with her kids Will (who is in Julie’s class) and Nancy. Hi, come on in, come see our new secret paths, come play baseball, we have a new swing, come see, come see! A little while later, down Butlerville comes Linda and her brood, who are out on a litter walk, bless their hearts. But the good deed is quickly forgotten and now three more kids join the mob. Next thing you know it’s a spontaneous playdate, the best kind! Amy, Linda and I are talking gardens and other mom-stuff; JP is pitching; Genny and Nancy are picking violets; Julie and Ryan come up with the ingenious idea to play outfield with butterfly nets. When I sit down in one of the Adirondack chairs, AJ runs inside to get books and runs back out and into my lap, “Read please.”

I love when this stuff just happens and you know, it doesn’t happen much if you don’t go outside.

Seriously. In the past couple years I’ve been silently observing suburbia in my own private experiment. After school hours when I’m driving around all the different towns and neighborhoods, picking up, dropping off, running errands, what have you…I drive by these houses and nobody is outside. The houses with manicured lawns, the trampoline, the jumbo deluxe swingset: not one kid playing. The houses with the long tree-lined driveways and the three car garages: no kids are bicyling or shooting hoops or playing with chalk. The old farmhouses with the mouthwatering porches or the to-die-for wraparound veranda: nobody sitting there. Where the heck is everyone? The latter really pisses me off. You’d have to drag me kicking and screaming off that kind of porch and you leave it empty! You don’t DESERVE it!!!

Lately people are bemoaning our loss of “community”. How we’ve become distanced and isolated behind the walls of our houses, even fearful. Why not go outside and play? Sit on your porch or steps or lawn. Wave at your neighbors. Get visible.

I love that my vegetable garden is close to the road. When I’m out there, cars slow down and look to see what I’m doing. Smiles. Waves. Sometimes a window rolled down, “What are you growing this year?”

A couple years ago, I had beautiful snapdragons out the wazoo. I let Julie and Maya cut them into bouquets and set up a little table to sell them. What the hell, right? Lemonade stands, eh, nobody really stops but flowers? Come on, on a Friday evening going home from work, who could resist? We put up signs on sawhorses “BRING HOME FLOWERS TONIGHT! FRESH CUT! $3/bunch!!”

Not one taker. Oh well, I enjoyed them myself. This year I’ve got tulips growing behind the fenced-in beds. Let’s see who can resist those!! I also have an idea brewing for this fall: every family in the neighborhood buys 1 or 2 bags of daffodils and plants them along their bit of roadside. If we did that for the next five years, can you imagine how gorgeous it would be?

Made panko-chicken for the kids’ dinner and salmon for me and JP. Then after dinner I made brownies from scratch because life is beautiful.

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One comment on “Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

  1. Mieke says:

    Excellent post. It’s true, what you say about the front yard. Even if people are home they tend to behind high fences in their backyards. We make a habit of staying in the front yard a lot. People love any excuse for connection. Young children playing certainly gives it to them.

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