Having neighbors all around is a new and surprisingly nice change. Our greater Appleton neighborhood is very quiet and stable with very few houses on the market. Most of the houses are of the late 50’s and early 60’s vintage. A half-dozen of my twenty-two immediate neighbors have lived in their house for over 40 to 50 years. It is an interesting mix of older retired folks, young married couples with and without children, adults who have moved back in with their parents, and Hmong families. Let me explain if you are not familiar with the Hmong people (pronounced mung), they are from the mountains of Laos, Cambodia, or Thailand who fought against the Communists with the Americans. When the Americans left the Communist turned on the Hmong and either put them in prison camps or killed them. This kind of treatment continues to this day. Anyhow, the Lutheran Church missions have brought them to the States over the last 30+ years and have helped them start a new life here. Since there is just about one Lutheran Church for every bar in Appleton, there is a sizeable population of Hmong families. My neighbor Ray way down the block says the Hmong family next to him, look out for he and his wife, and he feels they are caring and considerate people. As for my neighbors to the North, Pete and Lois, they are in the early 80’s and very spry for their age. Pete has been an invaluable resource for counsel or “handyman” help. Lois is just plain inquisitive, but friendly and rides a motorbike during the summer months. When we went home over the holidays they put our garbage out on the curb for pick-up and collected our mail and newspapers, I forgot to cancel them. Some days when I bake too much I take treats over to them. Pete and I occasionally take turns doing snow removal for each other’s sidewalks. Their little pup Pee-wee and Eddy are friends, but very much opposites in size. Most people have one or two dogs and all are very good about keeping them contained and cleaning up after them. During the winter months people don’t socialize as much, only in passing when outside at the same time. About once a week I catch Ray coming down the sidewalk with his rolling walker. I try to get out there and say hello. That hello is usually worth a good ten minutes of catching up. Well six months ago if you had asked me what I thought living in a city would be like, I would have told you that it would be awful having neighbors right next door and they would be annoying and “in my space”, but I actually like having them close by. I find it comforting to see folks coming and going throughout the day, the neighborhood kids on their way to and from school, people walking their dogs, and neighbors doing yard and sidewalk duty. Urban life shockingly seems to suit me!
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