There's an old "Sesame Street" song that talks about the people in your neighborhood, "The people that you meet each day." The song that reminds me of life here in Marquette - minus Ernie and Bert, of course.
I really do know the people in my neighborhood, and what lovely people they are. There's the family across the street with three lively, adorable little girls; the gentleman a couple of doors down who saved me from a backache last winter by snowblowing my entire driveway after a heavy, wet snowfall; and Hank and Perri next door, who have come to my aid with everything from a jump start for a dead car battery to a soothing cream for Saira the beagle's itchy belly. I can't list everyone, but you get the idea. Good neighbors.
Many of those good neighbors are fellow dog owners I encounter when I walk Indy. While we never socialize beyond our sidewalks there's a comfortable familiarity when we pause to chat and let our dogs exchange cautious sniffs.
It's a wonderful socialization exercise for Indy. He's particularly fond of Lucy, a sweet-natured, baggy-kneed, silky-soft little beagle who lives around the corner. And I happen to be particularly fond of Lucy's owners, wholehearted animal lovers who enjoy swapping stories of life with four-legged housemates.
In small towns the definition of neighbor expands to include the familiar faces we regularly encounter as we go about the business of living.
When my family lived in Trowbridge we made frequent jaunts to K's Korner, a tiny, crowded grocery store less than two blocks from home. While my kids stared into the vintage glass and wood candy case, debating the merits of Hubba Bubba versus Hershey's, I chatted with Vi, the proprietor, a slender woman with crisp gray hair and a warm, toothy smile. We shared our histories in small increments that added up to a friendship. When I saw her obituary in the paper not long ago I felt a retroactive loneliness for those over the counter gab sessions.
Last week I had to say goodbye to another "neighbor." Robert is a waiter at the local restaurant where my friends and I gather for breakfast every Saturday morning. Even when he's not assigned to our table he stops to say hello, and if we're having a problem with an order, we can count on him to resolve it.
I don't know Robert's last name, where he lives, his hobbies, his likes or his dislikes. Here is what I do know: he's laid back, friendly, a bit of a smart-aleck, he knows when a coffee cup needs refilling and he never needs to write down an order because he has a phenomenal memory.
Robert is leaving to serve in the military overseas. I made him promise to come back in one piece; he assured me he has every intention of doing so. Our Saturday breakfasts won't be the same without him.
Who are the people in your neighborhood? And by neighborhood I mean the circle of routine in which you live; street, store, park, church, library, restaurant, workplace or classroom. There are certain faces you're always glad to see. They aren't Big Bird yellow or Cookie Monster blue, but those mini relationships most definitely color your life.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Deb Pascoe is a Marquette resident, mother of three and full-time editorial assistant in The Mining Journal newsroom. Her bi-weekly columns focus on her observations on life and family. She can be reached by phone at 228-2500, ext. 240, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog online at www.singlesobermom.blogspot. com.