Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Home Sweet Home

My little home sweet home in Duluth doesn't look like much, but I loved this place. Three people and two dogs were crowded into a tiny three bedroom 1 bath house, but it worked. It was cozy and full of life. I told friends that while in graduate school, I lived in "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood." I'd grown up in suburban Atlanta with its urban sprawl (shopping center after shopping center), and had never seen, much less experienced, the type of community I found in Duluth, Minnesota.

Our neighborhood consisted of a handful of streets lined with modest homes and lots of snow. There was a grocery store and pharmacy, a tiny little fire station, a church, a post office, and a cute little library. Everything you needed was right there within walking distance, and there was ONE of everything. The neighbors all knew each other, which could be a blessing, or a curse. The postman knew you too, and everything that was going on along his route.

here he comes!
One day the postman shared with my next door neighbor his concern that I was starving my dog. This both horrified and amused me. Jessie was a hopelessly picky eater and coming up with creative ways to entice her to eat - making gravy, trying every brand of dog food - occasionally felt like a full time job. But it had never occurred to me that someone might consider her thin profile to be an indicator of abuse or neglect. The vet declared her healthy and fit. I made sure that my neighbor relayed the fact that she was the center of my universe, and most certainly not being starved.

My house was so close to my neighbor's house that if I'd been so inclined, I could have spit into her kitchen sink from my own as I washed dishes. "So you got in at 4 am last night.... " she would offer, an open ended statement-question awaiting an explanation. It cracked me up. The anonymity of a big city is so complete that you could move out of your house altogether, and it would be weeks, perhaps months, before your neighbors noticed they hadn't seen you around.

I'm back to my own home sweet home in North Carolina now, but I did not return empty-handed. That sweet and caring neighbor loaded me down with enough treats to feed an army. You'd think she was worried that I might be starving, which I assure you is not the case. After the many culinary excesses of this holiday season, author Alexander McCall Smith would likely refer to me as "traditionally built."

But despite the fact that I will weigh 350 pounds if I eat all of this, isn't there something so comforting about being sent home with a big bag of homemade cookies?

And homemade dishrags?


  1. I'll be right down to visit, what with all that yummy food! LOL And the homemade dishrags bring back memories of my Grandma, since that's all she used. And a 'new friend' gifted me with a bright yellow one for Christmas - I was so excited about it, she must have thought me nuts. :-) I enjoy your blog -- the writing, the photos, the joy in the everyday...

  2. It's just those kinds of wonderful experiences and connections that will no doubt stay us forever.

  3. Oh, sounds like my kind of place! Ya!

  4. What a lovely place that must be!