I love our neighborhood. It’s not just that we can walk to schools and businesses or that the trees stretch over the streets to make those beautiful dappled-green tunnels in the summertime. Although, you know, that’s all awesome. It’s our freakishly wonderful neighbors. Would you believe that in the last month each of my next-door neighbors has come over within five minutes when I asked them to babysit so that I could run out of the house without my kids? I know! I promise that it was quick and that I don’t do this all the time.
Anyway, Mary is perhaps the jewel in the crown of neighborly fabulousness. Exhibit A:
Ah, you say. Lovely, sure, but perhaps Katie is overly impressed with the presentation of a few cupcakes. Mais non, dear reader. This is the pink-frosted tip of the proverbial iceberg. First, before I was clever enough to take a picture for the blog, I had already re-gifted half of the cupcakes to another neighbor with young children. Because I am trying to spread the neighborly karma. But also because Mary had given each of us girls a box of chocolates in addition to the basket of cupcakes. Because she is out-of-control generous. But, wait, there’s more! We couldn’t eat any of these lovely items because we were too stuffed from having a fancy tea party at her house!
This was actually the Second Annual Valentine’s Day Honey Tea Party. Last year I was completely surprised by this event. The girls had had tea in Mary’s kitchen while playing with her grandchildren, so when they were invited over, I schlepped them next door without much thought. And she opened the door in full old-lady-dressed-for-tea regalia, including a wide-brimmed hat with flowers. And then she proceeded to invite my (underdressed, unprepared, undeserving) little girls into her living room, replete with antique furniture, fragile knick knacks, Oriental carpeting, and a beautiful china tea set overflowing with pink cookies and candies. Even a pink floral tea cozy. I mean, if the woman wanted to open a business, she could charge $30 a child for tea party-themed birthday events.
This year, we were slightly more prepared. We dressed for the occasion and brought a gift.
This is one of W’s favorites, a yummy crusty-whipped-creamy-and-fruit pie that we had to make because we have so many mangoes. Which, by the way, I didn’t see at Mohawk Commons, but the Eastern Parkway Price Chopper’s still got them for $1 each.
Anyway, I was feeling better that we were more emotionally prepared for the splendor this time, but of course Mary had kicked it up a notch. First, her lovely husband (who is every bit as delightful and over-generous as she is) had made tea sandwiches. Such a kind idea from an 83-year-old man. Our choices were traditional-style cucumber or tuna fish, which does not scream out “eat me!” to young children. So M did an excellent job of taking one and nibbling a corner, but J pretty much had her face buried in the dish of chocolate truffles and barely managed to look up–just as well, since she might have said, “Ewww!” We discussed this when we got home, of course. I ate approximately 3 times as many sandwiches as I wanted in order to make a three-peoples’-worth dent in the platter. Meanwhile, Mary had laid out her most tremendously glamorous dress-up items for us to adorn ourselves–netted gloves, fancy scarves, and hats that I think she should consider donating to a museum–you know, with feathers and ribbons and little net veils– one had been her grandmother’s. And she just laid it all out there for the girls. Leaving me feeling both grateful and anxious.
In any case, we had a lovely time. Until the girls got restless, moving around and threatening to break everything within reach. So we said our good-byes and thank yous and returned home to do spelling homework.
I’ve had the title of this post in my head for more than a month. I was thinking that it would go along with the story of How Mary Taught Me to Use a Clothesline in the spring. For me, having Mary is like having a grandmother who is also my girlfriend. And, better yet, also my neighbor. Our main living areas open to each other and we share a driveway, so we keep an eye on each other, but in the winter it’s just not the same. Ice is the enemy of old folks, for sure. In a few short months, the girls will be bringing Mary bunches of flowers while we admire each others’ gardens, and we’ll sit on her porch drinking lemonade while Mary exclaims extravagantly over the girls’ chalk drawings. Seeing more of all of our neighbors is yet another reason that I crave spring.