They say we’re often at our best when things are the worst. The blizzard that struck Tuesday night wasn’t really a “natural disaster”, but it did show us who’s boss. Snow totals varied around the area, but we got just under 21 inches in our south suburban Madison neighborhood.
We decided to tackle the job of clearing the driveway at first light, after we’d had a few cups of coffee and scanned the local TV stations to get a feel for how the storm was being handled. For my money, Channel 27 had the best coverage early on, with reporters stationed all around town doing “live shots”.
We live on a secluded cul-de-sac of seven homes, built about a dozen years ago. We’ve known all our neighbors for years. It’s been a stable neighborhood. Abby and Tim just bought the house across the way, and we got to meet Abby for the first time as she was shoveling out their driveway yesterday morning.
First up in the morning are usually Dean and Deanne, who live two doors away. We’ve watched each other’s kids grow up. Dean’s the kind of guy who can fix anything mechanical, and anybody in the neighborhood who’s got a car problem asks Dean for his advice, which is top-notch and freely given.
Dean was out there at oh-dark-thirty blowing his driveway clean, as my wife and I sat on our butts drinking coffee and taking in the news. Later, when we went out to start the snow-moving task, he drove past in his huge Dodge Ram pickup truck, checked our welfare, and did another round of snowblowing on his own driveway. That's his big red Ram truck in the photo above, behind the tree.
Back in the early part of the decade when I was hobbling around with a cane, before I had my hip replaced, Dean would come over with his ATV - complete with snow blade attached - and plow out my driveway. He’d never take a cent. I did try to make sure he was never short of beer, though.
Toni and I put in about a half-hour of snow removal at 7 o’clock and took a break. The phone rang, and it was our next-door neighbor Cecilia calling to make sure we were “provisioned” for the storm. She and her husband Anthony are two of the best neighbors you could ever wish for. We watch each other’s houses when we’re on vacation, loan each other stuff, and just get along swimmingly.
Speaking of hip operations, the first day I was home from the hospital in 2001, Anthony and Cecilia were the first people to visit, bearing food and gifts, wanting to know if there was anything they could do to help me re-hab. You couldn’t find better people anywhere. Anthony’s snowblower is much bigger than mine - and I can’t count the times he’s come over after a huge snowfall to pitch in.
And my good neighbors Sam and Tara next door the other way are another great couple. During the years when I had to leave for work at 3AM to get to the radio station, Sam would often be over with his big snowblower at 6 AM to make sure Toni got out of the driveway and off to work OK. Sam is a wizard with power tools, an accomplished cabinet maker. He’s lent his expertise to everybody in our tiny little neighborhood.
Tom, across the way on the other side of the cul-de-sac, has shared with us the fruits of his huge garden year after year. Nobody grows tomatoes and peppers like Tom. Daphne and James own the house two doors to our east, and when we moved in 10 years ago, Daphne was the first to welcome us to the neighborhood.
We’re lucky. We’ve got great neighbors who watch out for each other, help each other, watch out for each other’s children, and enjoy each other’s company. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but I still think we’re pretty fortunate to have such wonderful neighbors.
It didn’t take a blizzard to make me aware of how good we’ve got it. My neighbors seem to be at their best no matter what.