We have snow in Olympia Washington. The schools have been closed for 2 days and it snowed about a foot last night. We awoke to a winter wonderful land, unlike we have seen in these parts for a long time.
Since we are basically snowed in, we have spent a lot of time playing outside. As have our neighbors.
It occurs to me that typically, in this time of internet and commuting, we have community all over the place. Our work friends, our facebook friends, our dance friends, our school friends and sometimes our neighbors.
I live in the suburbs. Not by choice as much as necessity. It is a strange place for me. I grew up in the close quarters of a big city where you borrowed and lended and generally shared. Here everyone has their own lawnmower, garden plans, cups of sugar and they keep to themselves for the most part. It’s not that they are “un-neighborly” by any means. I know that if I needed something, they would be there to help in a minute. It’s just a different culture than I am used to. In Portland, we had a big front porch and every Sunday the neighborhood gathered to share food and kids and I LOVED it. In our neighborhood, I assumed it would be the same, people gathering together around meals and community gardens. But here, it’s not quite that way, except for the kids they are together constantly, drumming up adventures. Kids are by far wiser than adults in certain circumstances.
The snow changed our neighborhood dynamics today. Our family has snow shovels and strong backs and we use them. We shovel our driveway everyday and yesterday we shoveled “The Jones” driveway (at the kids suggestion). The next day “The Smiths” asked to borrow our shovels for their driveway. Then “The Jones” who’s driveway we shoveled, shoveled “The Hansons” driveway. It all started with a little idea from some bighearted children. What if we all thought this way? How can I help? How can I reach out to others in my neighborhood, parenting group, etc.?
The snow has slowed down our bustle and created space for us to help our neighbors. Hmm… What if we “chose” to slow down our pace and focus more consciously on reaching out instead of pedaling so fast that we can’t see anything past our own busyness?
I am thankful for the snow. And the chance to reflect on what I want to keep with me after it melts. I will choose to keep the snapshot of my kids shoveling for our neighbors close with me. And when the world gets busy again, I will remind myself that I can choose slowing down as a way of life. Over and over. In my opinion, the world would be a much kinder place if we all did. It is much easier to connect with people when we are walking instead of running. Or in this case shoveling instead of not. I am curious to see where this goes…