Our annual Neighborhood Block Party and Circus left me feeling rather pensive this summer. It could be the last one we attend where we walk down the street, boys on their bikes, carrying the expected popcorn snack that I’m famous for (leftovers always claimed by a neighbor the block over).
The night before the big day our boys practiced for the circus. The skits, the monkey rolls, the caterpillar, the pyramid. Lots of hard work in preparation for a big crowd! A big crowd it is. The street is actually closed off. Everyone brings a side, a chair, and a plate. We eat very well while watching the kids perform.
Some of them, as you may recall, are part of a circus club where they live so they are quite good! Juggling, acrobatics, clown skits…they return every year with new skills to share, talents honed a little more, and to visit their grandma, a long-term Rensselaer resident.
As some of you know, we are selling our Rensselaer, Indiana home. To use an old-fashioned, yet fitting term, it’s a beaut! A 1901 built Victorian, it’s got all the lovely flourishes you would expect as well as a few that you wouldn’t–it was the town doctor’s home after all. We just need to be a little closer to my husband’s work. Next summer, someone else may linger longer, reluctant, as we’ve been, to leave the fun atmosphere of our neighborhood in community while we will have to drive home, wherever that might be.
Living in town has been quite an experience. For some, they can’t imagine how it could be appealing but those of you here in town KNOW. If I hadn’t felt so connected, so grounded, and so appreciative of my neighborhood and the people in it, there would not be a little Indiana. It’s only by being surrounded by people who care, home owners and apartment renters alike, that made ME care.
The People in Our Neighborhood
Thoreau moved to the woods to distance himself from society: I cannot imagine. Our house has thick, sturdy walls. They silence whatever noise there may be outside but, let’s face it, this is a small town and the street becomes just about dead after 5:30, so there’s not always a whole that even needs silencing in the first place! But when I open the windows: I hear sounds of life.
Days I feel chained to the laptop working on the little Indiana website or completing my daily word count for the BOOK don’t feel quite so isolated when I can hear the familiar sound of kids laughing, smell the neighbor’s barbecuing (oh my goodness, are they gifted with the grill!)or the scent of our lilac bush in the Spring that’s two times the height of my husband, and simply feel inspired by the towering, stately courthouse that changes colors with the sun.
We chit chat with our neighborhood dog walkers. We exchange garden vegetables. As I’ve said before, I’ve come home to a fresh baked loaf of zucchini bread on my dining table. One neighbor took our kid to the pool, the other took him to the movies. Another neighbor covered my husband’s bike with a tarp when it blew off , we were away, and a storm was coming in. When my husband is putzing around with something outside, kids talk to him.
The apartments behind us, well, the girls are like part of the family. Every Christmas we have our own tradition of decorating graham cracker houses as we’ve done for years now. Sometimes we attend Christmas Eve Service together. The boy on the other side mows our yard and our neighbor’s. The young gal in the apartment next to us rushed out with homemade candy right before our last trip so the boys would have something to munch on in the car.
The neighbor’s little dog two doors down bothers his owner when he hears our boys outside, waiting and watching for them to come over and say “hi.”It’s not everyone that gets to walk to the farmer’s market or watch the annual car cruise night from their front porch.
Life in Town
Ah, our front porch. So much has been discussed while sitting on that porch swing: the makings of little Indiana back in 2008, the excitement over our new addition in 2014 aka Kid #2, and our general plans for the future. It’s where the pilot pitch for PBS was filmed! The front porch is the heart of our home in the summer.
Will the next owners contribute to the fabric of our neighborhood? Will they weave themselves into the community, sharing an over-abundance of baked goods with neighbors as we do now (and vice versa)?
We’ve lived life in our small town. THIS is life in our small town and, at least judging by the trips I’ve taken, it probably closely resembles life in yours too. It’s exciting to think that someday, new owners will take over our house and get to know the people, the sounds, and the laughter of the neighborhood. I hope they love it as much as we have.
Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is little Indiana!
Just don’t forget to tell ’em that little Indiana sent you!
Rensselaer, Indiana in Jasper County
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