Friday, January 13, 2012

Cold Creates a Kinder Community

Nap time is a special time for Mommies. Today, instead
of curling up on the couch and watching a DVR'ed episode of 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, or Desperate Housewives, I was compelled to do something else. Henry was put in his crib, and I bundled myself up. I shoveled my sidewalks so that strangers can walk their dogs around the block, and inevitably stop at the bright yellow fire hydrant on my corner to urinate.

Why would I do such a thing for the sake of some neighborhood pets need to expel waste? I don't know. All I know is that in the frozen north this is what people do. And we all know the old adage, "When in Rome..." My husband, the future Lawyer, would say that we need to shovel the walk, because we are liable for injuries that an
yone would incur on our property. But, I think, there is really no reasonable reason (my attempt at lawyer talk) for a human to be outside and on my sidewalk in this weather. I realize that
my opinion may not carry much weight, as I am from the west and am accustomed to the self serving characteristics within the desert communities I have lived.

So, people shovel the walk in 20 degree weather here. They also are very cautious and polite drivers in the snow. Road rage could lead to horrible accidents. At
4 way stops, what seems like hours pass by due to people flagging each other to take the
right of way.
"Oh, nonono, it's my right of way, but let's ignore that law so that you can go first. I insist, no really, I insist."
Michigan is a no fault state, so people are responsible for their own damages if they have an accident. Maybe that's because EVERYONE gets in an a
ccident at one time or another. It's impossible not to. Even a cautious driver of a 4x4 can skid into a parked minivan while taking a slow turn.
"Eh, no big deal....we all do it. Maybe I'll be running into you next week...literally...running into you."

Winter mornings are dark and the cars need to be warmed up before you take them out on the rink. The older the car, the longer it takes to warm up. After being a member of this community for a year, I no longer fear that someone will jump into my running vehicle and take off while I am in the house helping children find boots and the one lost glove.
"It would be so easy. All they need to do is
get in and drive off," I used to think.
Now, I know better.
A. Not even a criminal goes outside unless they have to
B. You can't peel out in the snow
C. The walk is clear, it's impossible to steal from someone so thoughtful

Someone in this neighborhood has a snow blower. He or she, snow blows the whole sidewalk along his side of the street. Now, that's nice. He must really be an animal lover. I live on a corner lot, so that means I get to do twice as much as most people do!
To make this even better, people show appreciation when driving by. They honk, or wave, or nod or whatever. And I take additional time in the cold in order to wave, or nod back.

"Yes, I am miserable. That makes me a nice person. In AZ I wouldn't even know you or your dog, and now you wave at me while I make Buster's toilet more tolerable. You are welcome, my cold, northern, stranger/friend."

What I am doing is considered a common courtesy, like holding the door open at the store for the person directly behind me even though, if he walks fast enough, I wouldn't have to hold it.

The cold makes me crabby. I will reword that, so as to take responsibility for my feelings: When it's cold, I choose to be crabby. Despite my decision to be crabby, I recognize the kindness that is fostered by freezing temperatures does spill over into the spring and summer. Northerners thaw out and are just as kind as the Popsicle they once were. Grocery lines become similar to the 4 way stop..taking hours to get to your turn. The checker takes his/her time chit chatting with every person who comes thru. It's annoying until it's your turn, and then it's very pleasant.

In the spring, on Pattengill Ave, the animals have free reign. And those beasts that I detest serving during winter months, come to thank me by watering my trees and grass. They play with the kids, then run off to mark their territory else
where. An old lady with a walker makes her way to the turn around at the entrance of our neighborhood. She finds a nice spot to sit on the public side walk and begins to weed. I suppose she does this to make up for the fact that she can't shovel her walk anymore....or maybe she's just nice. So I drive by and honk, and wave, and smile.