Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Avisiting We Go

Written by Jonah Lisa

Almost every culture throughout history has had some tradition that involved visiting your neighbors, maybe even taking them gifts. The Norse did it on Christmas; the Scottish and Chinese did it on New Years Eve and Day, respectively; the Germans hung flowers on neighbors’ doors for May Day; and then there’s the Jewish tradition of bikur cholim, visiting the sick.

Though most of us can’t quite remember the days when it was common here. We read books like Little House on the Prairie and Ann of Green Gables and feel nostalgic for the times when you always greeted new neighbors with a welcoming homemade pie or quick bread to eat while their cookware was still being unpacked. We long for the simplicity of a tight knit community that took care of their own.

The closest most of us come to it now is visiting a self-created cyber-neighborhood daily (well not on Sundays!). We check in on our favorite blogs, people we don’t even know but have come to feel close to, and we read Facebook to see what our old high school friends are doing. In fact, we probably know more about these people than the ones who live on our own block or subdivision. 

Something is upside down with that. Don’t you think?

What got me working toward setting things right side up again was pure coincidence. In the same season, we re-committed to Unplugged Sundays and I planted too much head lettuce in my garden.

Now that was the state of my garden a few weeks ago, but you can clearly see the fifteen heads of lettuce planted on the same day. I don’t know what I was thinking. My family was at salad over-load. I had to do something with it. And with an entire day free from distractions and plans, giving it to neighbors seemed like the perfect idea.

So...avisiting we went.

We cut and bagged 8 huge heads of red and green leaf right in the garden, loaded up the bike and started up the road, slowly making our way through the neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon.

Without exception, everyone was happy to see us. 

Some folks invited us in and we got to catch up on what was going on in their lives. Others had something going on and didn’t, so we chatted on the porch for a bit and moved on. We always had the excuse of more deliveries so it really didn’t matter. But we always had the time to go inside and accept some reciprocal hospitality if it was offered. 

Only a day as unharried as an Unplugged Sunday could really accommodate such spontaneity.

We talked gardening and sewing and sports, and learned about a great new swimming hole we’ve never been to. We ate cookies and fruit, played with some dogs, and had a really wonderful time. Not a single person was put off by the surprise nature of the visit. Perhaps because we came bearing gifts. 

It all felt very old-fashioned. Like we were connecting to something old and lost, but something everyone we visited with was happy to have back for bit.

We were connecting.  

Connecting to real, flesh and blood human beings. We were solidifying old friendships, and making new ones, and sharing some bounty, and hopefully teaching our kids a small lesson about contributing to a community.

But above all the lofty ideals, it was fun. I felt like Santa Claus. 

I may even plant extra head lettuce next year, radishes too, just so we have a good excuse to go avisiting again.

1 comment:

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