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Life as a Scot in California

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Posts Tagged ‘potluck’

New Faces at the Block Party and New Ideas

Posted by berkeleyscot on October 29, 2009

This past Sunday, we went to the ‘annual’ block party to meet our neighbours, old and new.

After 21 years of living on the Avenue, we’ve now become the ‘old ones…’

I remember our early block parties when elderly neighbours would tell us how much they paid for the houses 40 years before. One neighbour said she’d been worried she couldn’t afford the $10,000 her house cost in the 1950s.

Nobody was discussing house prices now…

It was a very cold afternoon, but I seemed to be the only one complaining and muttering that we should have had it earlier in the year. I didn’t expect that there would be many people there and I didn’t prepare ‘proper’ potluck food.

I brought (store bought) Scottish shortbread and we even ate some before we got there. Our new neighbours had made much more of an effort and provided interesting and delicious dishes to share.

However, it’s only at the block party that we ever see most of the neighbours.  Our block is long and even if I walk by the houses, I rarely see the people.

Now, there are plans to turn our small town into a ‘community.’ Some ideas suggested are: taking down fences between properties so that neighbours could communally grow vegetables, car sharing, meal sharing, communal caring of children, elders and pets.

Noble goals, but I don’t see any of it working effectively.

I say this from my own experience growing up in a community that was not planned, but was a community born of necessity and shared lives. The families were all fisher folk. The men were at sea all week and the women were the home support group.

Life was shared fully, in this community. Babies were delivered by the neighbours, who would continue to look after the mother and newborn for as long as necessary. The sick were cared for and nobody was left to die alone.

I remember there was a drawer in our house in which a shroud and white socks were kept for ‘laying out the body,’ when the time came.

That community worked well because all had a common purpose.

I suppose the downside was a complete lack of privacy and as I grew up and prepared to leave home, I became more aware of that.

But in my block, I have all the privacy I want. I rarely see anyone and lace curtains do not twitch as I pass.

I think I’ll keep my fences up, but if a neighbour needs my help, I’ll gladly give it.


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