When my sister and I returned from California, we were overwhelmed by yard work.
Even though we had someone mowing in our absence, everything needed care upon our return. With all the moisture, the weeds were having a heyday. And wouldn’t you know it — the only lawnmower working was the push mower. For a regular yard, that’s adequate. For all the yards that we mow weekly, a push mower is a killer.
By the time we got to the house on B Street, which we call Jake’s Place, the riding mower was fixed. However, we weren’t mowing, we were in hay season. By driving slowly, which is not my normal mode, we actually were able to mow the lawn by setting the cutting surface at 6 inches — the mower just couldn’t hack it any shorter.
This meant that within a couple of days — in between rainstorms — we were back mowing again.
It was a hot day and in the midst of our toil, the neighbor kids from across the street came over and brought us lemonade. This was the sweetest gesture. Not only sweet because we were thirsty or sweet because it was hot, but sweet to have someone reach out with a touch of kindness after we’d been “shot at,” publicly and otherwise.
“Oh, how nice,” we said. “Thank you!”
The kids stopped and talked to us about their summer plans and what had been happening for them at the end of school. We were delighted, refreshed, and grateful.
“Isn’t it something how a little thing like a glass of lemonade can change the whole feeling of a town?” my sister, Jessica, said.
She was right. It’s the little things, the seemingly inconsequential things that make a tremendous impact in our lives — especially in a small puddle like Ramona.
We were remembering when we first came to Ramona 20 years ago and bought the first little tumble-down house. A neighborhood kid came to help us; his father offered water at the end of a hose; his mother offered advice. Aunts and uncles loaned us tools — Jakie brought us Pepsi, Deb brought a casserole. It was a town reaching out to strangers.
And here it was happening again — someone reaching out with a kind hand, a glass of lemonade. This simple gesture was something we really needed.
I’ve always known that Small Town America could be kind in a crisis; but the real test of our small-town mentality is whether kindness rules when the chips aren’t down.
If what’s on television is a measure of what we enjoy watching (and talking about) reality shows are all the rage. All too easily, it seems, small town life takes on the feel of watching someone else’s life played out on the stage of D Street without registering the fact that all the hoopla, the chatter, the pseudo excitement of something to talk about, the meanness, is not entertainment or even funny.
Actually, creating mischief in someone else’s life keeps you from paying attention to your own back yard. I guess that’s why people do it.
It’s another day in the country, and if your day has been like ours of late — not all that pleasant — turn off the reality shows. Take those lemons and make lemonade — offer some to a neighbor.