Periodically I go out onto my balcony to look at the sky, including the sunsets. The power lines rather spoil the effect of gorgeous skies and sunsets. Tonight, when I went onto the balcony, I could smell barbecue. Which of my neighbours is barbecuing tonight, I wonder?
I know a few of my neighbours, but others I have never even seen. I live on a street corner and my garage is on the side street, which is very short, and has two lanes running behind the houses on each side, and a lane running between the two streets. It is close to the main street of the suburb, and is a very handy location, close to shops, cafes, restaurants, a little supermarket, the post office and the bank, the primary school, the weekend markets, my general medical practice, and buses.
My front door faces on to another main street, but across the road to the right there is a high school, and to the left a very large complex of apartments, none of which face in my direction. That is, they do, but residents leave via their garages, which are out the back, and so I have no idea who any of them are.
Before I moved to this city, and lived in the general suburbia of our capital city, people generally had front gardens, and so you would see people as they gardened. Here, however, the houses are small and the outside areas are microscopic, and thus you never see anyone at the front of their houses. Really, if you want to see people, you encounter them in the back lanes.
My next door neighbours don't actually live in the house, but use it as their professional premises. They are both very pleasant, and we see each other quite often as we come and go. They had a bit of a hard time while Fernando was here, what with all the jackhammering and associated bangs and thumps, but were patient and understanding, despite the nuisance I had created. I did not realise quite what a nuisance it would be, let alone for how long it would continue, and so had not warned them. Mea culpa. Indeed, mea maxima culpa.
We who live in the main street back on to a lane, so occasionally you see people going in or out by car, but mostly we seem to be invisible to each other. There is a young man a few doors up, who is an incredibly keen gardener. I see him occasionally in the back lane, and we chat briefly. He has had severe cancer and was very gravely ill, but survives. There is another couple who walk their dogs, but they do not seem sociable.
The house across the lane from me is home to a very old lady, about 96, who has lived there for most of her adult life. She is pretty deaf, and though we have met a number of times, both in the street and socially, she never remembers me. I see her daughter from time to time, on Saturdays when she comes to see her mother and take her out. The council takes her out once a week, to old people's activities - don't know what they are!
Then there are the neighbours in the rest of the street. Next to the old lady, live (I think) a male couple. I don't think I have ever seen them, let alone spoken to them. I got a bit irritated recently as they had taken to leaving their garbage bins outside my house. I felt it was an unneighbourly thing to do. After some time I took them back to the back of their house, and so far they appear to have taken the hint.
Next to them live a very nice couple, who have been pleasant, chatty and helpful - they actually helped me in the search for lawyers after Dr P's death, and they are keen gardeners, who manage to grow citrus in pots successfully. After Dr P's death I thought I should let them know of it, and also told the couple across the road from me. They had the key to the house, and were prepared to be an emergency contact.
The house across the road used to be rented. From time to time they'd have parties which went very late indeed, and at 3 am one night I got out of bed, put on my dressing gown, went across and told them that if they did not turn the 'music' down and finish, I'd be calling the police in 15 minutes. Turned out their next door neighbours actually did call the police, who asked how loud the music was. They held up the phone. The police were convinced.
That house was sold a couple of years ago, and was bought by a nice young couple with two children living there now. It is good to have some littlies around.
The other neighbours I know are at the end of the lane on the next corner. As I walk that way to get to the shops and the bus, I see them quite often. They actually witnessed my will, as it happened that I needed two people together who fell into independent categories, and there was nobody handy. They kindly agreed to witness my signature. Out of such things linkages are made.
And more linkages are being made through the knitting and crochet group.