Urban Homesteading - Welcome Home

| 5/7/2009 2:16:50 PM

The downtown historical neighborhood I moved into a month ago is beginning to feel like home. Last weekend the neighborhood association held their annual breakfast and plant sale at the Presbyterian church, located smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood. We wandered the half block to the sale and bought a few annuals for our small front-yard garden bed. Right now, there’s not much room for flowers, but I’m sure over the next few years the lawn area will decrease while the gardens expand.

Saturday was a beautiful day and folks were out planting, mowing and walking their dogs. We met half a dozen neighbors and discovered we already knew some of them. Serendipity!! While planting strawberries, raspberries and vegetable seeds, we were offered some thornless blackberry plants from our across-the-alley neighbor. She also has a large patch of iris and I’m hoping in the fall she might be willing to divide a couple of unusual ones for us.

At the end of the day we were sitting on the porch, just relishing the quiet ambience of the neighborhood, when we were invited to join a group of neighbors for an end of the day libation. Wow! We’ve only been in the house for a month and already a party invitation.

Everyone we’ve met expounds on the feeling of community and small-town living this particular neighborhood has developed. This historical area encompasses some lovely restored Victorian houses and some no-so-lovely rental units in need of TLC. I was encouraged to learn that many of the elderly residents are watched over by a group from the homeowners association. If the mail isn’t collected or the newspapers pile up in the driveway, someone stops in to see if all is well.

Despite the fact that my house and yard are much smaller than in the previous location, I have a sense of living in a much bigger space because the neighborhood is so inviting. I grew up in a small town and am thrilled to have “returned,” 40 years later, to a place where I am welcomed and feel a measure of belonging.

Does your neighborhood invite you in or do you feel a sense of isolation? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

5/11/2009 7:35:06 AM

I read the one reply with great amusement. I live in a suburban neighborhood that used to be all farmland. Then my nearest city began spreading beyond its boundries and farmers were considered dirty and run off for new subdivisions that brought in more taxes. We even have the "dump" police who tell us what we can place in the recycling bins (i.e. only soda, milk or beer cans, nothing else because that's "dirty and unslightly"). We don't have HOA's yet but we have enough loud and nosy neighbors that qualify. Oh well, life goes on!! I had alot of fun when I planted the okra and a neighbor asked me about the new flowering "vine" that she just had to have one of!!!!

5/10/2009 8:36:31 AM

Oh, wow. I'm in love. It's totally out of reach, but I'm still in love. I guess a lot of how much a community feels like home depends on how well you fit in with the neighbors. I wanted to move back to the country for all the years we lived in trailer parks in town. Well, I got it. And I feel much more alienated here than I ever did in Morgantown. Which is because, trees and deer and burn barrels and being 25 miles from everything not withstanding, this place is a virtual subdivision. No Homeowners' Association and no rules, but plenty of snotty old rich suburbanites who really hate the fact that the people who moved in up the road from their vacation homes put a garden in where the lawn used to be. I offered to make it pretty. I said I needed some suggestions. All the ones I got boiled down to, "Buy your tomatoes at WalMart." So screw 'em. We won't be here forever. Before we leave, we'll spread out the topsoil and plant grass. In the meantime, I'm learning stuff and growing veggies. If they wanted to live in a subdivision, they should have moved to one.

Randolph Martens
5/8/2009 2:45:01 PM

The above property is located just east of Raleigh in Stanhope, NC. R. Martens

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