A new neighborhood

Winter changes everything. At least it does in Wisconsin.

In spring, summer and fall most of us are out in our yards, puttering in the garage, weeding the garden, and mowing the grass. We see our neighbors and comment on the lack of rain and find out they’re having a weekend barbecue or one of the kids has started swimming lessons and is part fish.

In winter, we pass briefly as we wield snow blowers and shovels, soldiers in a battle against the elements. We may tell each other how long we’ll be gone over the holidays, but that’s about it. Winter can be unkind and we would rather be indoors than lingering over a snow pile that is already much too high.

And so a new neighborhood develops around the places we find ourselves in winter.

At the checkout counter, the checker says she’s been meaning to try that frozen dessert. Have you had it before? Is it really good? Or maybe you bond over organics. And pretty soon you’re telling her about your sister who is coming to visit.

At the library, another reader notices the book you’ve just picked up and says it is good, but the ending is disappointing. You  pick up a book from new arrivals section and tell her it’s a must-read.

And at Kwik Trip this morning, the guy in front of me confided he had to buy antifreeze because his car wouldn’t start and it’s only going to get worse.

“My car has been running sluggish,” I tell him.

“Yeah, it will do that until it warms up.”

“Stay warm,” I tell him, “and good luck with your car.”

We may not be geographical neighbors but in this one time and place we are experiencing the same exasperation and we bond. It’s a moving neighborhood but we’re all making connections where we can.


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