Taking the Shortcut

The View from Our House

I never stop counting my blessings that our friends Carol and Tucker live just a spit and a holler away.  It’s less than a block door-to-door and even less than that if you take the shortcut through the churchyard – a good thing to do in the summer, but pretty puddly in the winter.  It’s 165 steps by road; 122 by the shortcut.  Not a lot shorter but, somehow, walking across the lawn and through the gap in the fence seems to be faster by far.

It’s not that we spend that much time in one another’s houses nor necessarily in one another’s company.  Usually, Friday nights at our house.  Now and then around their table or their firepit.  Working on projects together, occasionally.  No… it’s not about time saved or spent – it’s just knowing that they are there.  They’ve come to our rescue many, many times in the years (Is it five, now?) they’ve lived in Oysterville full time – feeding the chickens when we are out of town, keeping an eye on the house, even preparing our ‘home hospital room’ after Nyel’s quadriceps surgery three years ago.

Taking the Shortcut

Sometimes we get to reciprocate.  But not very often.  If they are away for a few days, we stand in for them, tossing out birdseed in their yard each morning and, if it’s a Wednesday, we deal with their garbage can.  Hardly enough to feel that things are ‘even’ in terms of time or effort, though. When I worry about the inequality of it all, they assure us that that’s not the point.  But we wish we could do more for them.  Mostly, I guess, we wish we weren’t so often in need, ourselves.

The best part, though, is that we enjoy one another’s company.  Sometimes Carol and I dream up a ‘double date’ and the four of us go out to dinner or maybe on a day trip.  For a couple of winters, we’ve shared rides to the Community Historian meetings and, I think out of interest rather than neighborly support, both Carol and Tucker took the class I gave at Grays Harbor College a year or so ago. We’ve worked on community projects together and have sat side-by-side at programs at the schoolhouses and during services at the church.  We enjoy meeting one another’s friends and visiting with one another’s relatives. Living in proximity seems like extra icing on the cake.

Walking Home the Long Way

Tucker is the one who ‘discovered’ the shortcut.  It used to be that he got the best cell phone coverage out in his backyard or over toward the church.  If I called from the kitchen, I could look out the window and we could see one another as we talked.  (Those teenaged whipper-snappers have nothing on us old ducks, by Godfrey Daniel!)  And, one step led to another, you might say.

It all puts me in mind of my childhood when kids came in and out of neighbors’ back doors with ‘nary a knock or a ‘yoo-hoo.’  I don’t really remember any shortcuts then and we aren’t even close to that sort of bursting-through-the-door boldness now, but the feeling is the same – unconditional neighborliness!  It’s the best!

One Response to “Taking the Shortcut”

  1. Stephanie Frieze says:

    Your relationship with Carol and Tucker is one of the things I envy about your life in Oysterville. ?

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