Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Spent much of Sunday sweeping redwood seeds off my parent's steps and driveway. There's a large some 250 ft redwood tree two houses down and the recent winds dispersed many of its pinecone looking seeds with attached fluttery leaf. They filled the gutters and coated everyone's driveway like a new carpet.

I was just stopping by for a visit, then ended up stopping by to clean up as the parents didn't have time to sweep. All the other neighbors were out too sweeping their sidewalks. I think I was 10 or 12 the last time I did this chore. Of course the neighbor that had the tree was sweeping. His 8 year old son was helping him trying to show off to dad how well he could sweep too. I waved over, acknowledging our mutual task ahead of us. It's about the only time for sure you'll see all the neighbors out at once. Whoever knew raking leaves gets you to know your neighbors? I live in an apartment building where I sometimes run into my neighbors in the elevator but not all the time. There's not much time to stop and chat except for name introductions.

I guess the neighbors in between us were out of town or gone for the day, so we swept right up to the property line on the sidewalk delineating our leaves and their leaves, though I added 3-4 feet of shared sidewalk just for the hell of it. If the wind blows their leaves will end up on our side anyway. Everyone loaded their garbage bins and stuffed their vegetation recycle bins waiting for the truck on Tuesday.

I filled up 3 bags of leaves and hauled them up the steps. It was a hot day to sweep without any shade in the front yard. The sun, the heat, the dust. The leaves in the gutter had been getting ground into dust by the car traffic. I kept thinking about how the street gutters would overflow if we didn't get these leaves swept up before the rainy season.

I met the new neighbors across the street. Since my parents have been living in this neighborhood for 30+ years, just about everyone here is new, except for the B's who have been here longer than we have. But these new neighbors just bought their house early this year when the Judge decided to move to the cheaper, flatter, one story houses of Alameda. After I finished sweeping I crossed the street to say hi.

D & L moved here from the City. They thought it was really windy a few nights ago, but really it was really tame, but I guess for people who don't live near tall pine and redwood trees and were unfamiliar with the sound of the wind through those branches, well yeah, it probably was really windy to them. D works in the financial district, they have two young kids. The commute is pretty good he says and they actually have a yard for the kids to run around in. They said they hadn't met my parents yet, but found much of the neighborhood really friendly and hoped that they would be around for a long time to come.

I had forgotten what it's like to have a yard and meeting the neighbors. There's something about even condo living that tends to stifle the friendliness. Maybe it's because we share a wall and sounds still permeate in those muffled low tones, not much, but enough to know that you lack a space in between. Plus when you see your neighbors doing the yard work along with you, you get a sense that everyone is taking care of the neighborhood or at least the section of neighborhood in front of their homes.

I left feeling like I'm getting close to being done with apartment living, that I'd like to have a place with a yard and maybe a tree.

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