Neighborliness

Rex has decided that between 5 am and 5.30 am would be a great time to get up in the morning, after some months of 6 am to 6.30 am being the norm (and something Lynn and I can cope with). We're working on that. But between the croup a couple of weeks ago, some ongoing non-hazardous nighttime coughing on the part of the boys--including a two-part symphony a few nights ago--and these early mornings, Lynn and I have been about as pooped as when Rex was a baby. We trade off on extra sleep in the morning, but it's not the same as sleeping a long stretch all night.Sunday morning, it took a while for Lynn and I each to get our own extra sleep, get showered, keep the boys entertained, and we just had to get out of the house. It was about 11 that we dragged Ben out, who refuses to admit when he's tired; he just gets whiny at those times. So we weren't prepared for much, but we needed a walk. In the afternoon, Ben and I were to go to Carnation, over a bit east, for a birthday party at a farm with a small amusement park. (We had a fantastic time; the park was perfectly scaled to toddlers, and just cheesy enough to be amusing but not so cheesy as to be kitsch. And there was a hay jump: a bunch of hay that you could jump into, and a hay maze.) The walk wasn't going so well. Lots of complaining, bad behavior. We found a house being built nearby and walked around it. And then Ben suggested he wanted to take a longer walk, which would take us by The House with the Cow Weather Vane. About five blocks from our house, there's a rambling home that's modest in size but quite tall, and the owners plunked a particolored cow on top. Ben had spotted this last year when we did holiday light walks, and was quite taken by it. We were walking by, and one of the homeowners was walking out, and saw us staring at his home. I told him how important the weather vane was in our walks, and started chatting him up about the corn he had planted out front, that seemed to do well. He--Tom--invited us all up, and gave the boys some corn, and showed us he and his wife Judy's city chickens out back. He let Ben reach into the laying nests and pick up two eggs, still warm! They had a very productive backyard and frontyard, which is quite difficult to do in the Montlake neighborhood, as we have postage-stamp plots. They'd packed a lot in. The chicken fertilizer was making their garden go bonkers this year, they said. Well, meeting neat neighbors, and the magic of walking into someone's backyard to find a tiny farm, more or less, broke the bad mood, cheered Lynn and I up, and make us happy all day. Now that's what neighbors are for. We ate the corn last night; ooooweeee, was it fresh and crisp. Ben had a bite; Rex ate a fair number of kernels after he was "all done" with a pretty super supper of his own. The eggs are in the fridge and must be eaten soon. We're plotting precisely what our comestible response to the neighbors will be. (An aside: We switched to buying organic eggs, often with some extras like flax-fed cluckers that produce them, and we noticed at that time how thick the shells were. Whenever I have to use a commercial egg now, they seem so fragile. The yolks, too, are much darker and rich--more betacarotene in properly fed chickens--in the organic and free-range eggs. In Bill Buford's Heat, a book about his experience transmuting from a foodie who was a New Yorker editor into a cook who worked in restaurants for research and fun, he essentially concludes that pasta in Italy is better than in the U.S. largely due to the eggs.) Lynn and I have met so many of our neighbors since having kids, because we walk around the neighborhood so much. Between gas prices and a desire for simplicity and exercise, we are trying to drive much less--and I think succeeding. The boys generally like walks, and it's a great way to meet our community. I suggested to Lynn we print out some big Google maps of our neighborhood and start writing down the names and some details about people we meet so we can remember later!