With all the time I've been outside recently, it's not surprising that I've come into more frequent contact with the neighbors. I use "neighbors" loosely, since on the one side of the place there's The Cradle, and the person I run into is their physical plant manager. On the other side there's a private home with one person (a retired rabbi, I understand) living in it.
It's funny, really. The Cradle's property is meticulously kept. In addition to the plant manager, there's a landscaping crew that comes once a week on Tuesdays. There's not a weed in sight, every plant does what it's supposed to do, and the lawn is a suburban dream.
The guy next door's home is, well, not so well kept. The weeds are knee high already, some kind of vine is taking over the deck off the back of his house, and his garage, which never has its door shut, is filled with several years' worth of leaves. The front yard, or what's left of it, is a wreck.
But here's the thing: none of that matters. The plant manager will shovel our walk with their snowblower when it's really, really deep. He just keeps on going and doesn't stop until he at least gets to the point where the walk meets the way to the front steps. Nice guy. He doesn't need to do that.
Last fall, the guy next door came up to me as I was raking and offered me the use of his yard waste bin for the leaves. As he put it, "I won't be using it, so you might as well." Nice guy. He didn't need to do that.
Now that spring's here, the plant manager and I have had a couple of nice chats about the property line, and whose green stuff is whose. Today as he pulled in, he said our place was looking good. He said he'd have their landscaping crew handle anything I couldn't reach over the fence.
And the guy next door, never saying much more than "hi," is pausing over that "hi" and smiling more broadly when we meet than I ever remember. I'm using his yard waste bin again for bamboo roots and other such stuff.
The future of Buddhism in America is much discussed these days. I'm just a temple priest, so what do I know, but I'd venture that digging bamboo and planting flowers and hanging outside getting to know the neighbors is better than that!