Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Living on the Street

Smartmom knows it's spring on Third Street when she sees her neighbor's faces for the first time in months. Last night before sunset, Third Streeters were out in force, sitting on the steps in front of their buildings, watching the kids play, seeing who was walking down the street.

And chit chatting.

On Third, Smartmom and her neighbors spend much of the warm months out on the street. The 8-unit limestone apartment buildings, of which there are ten or more, have these large, gated front yards that are perfect for hanging out.

Unlike those with brownstones, there are no backyards on Third Street, so Third Streeters do their outdoor sitting, eating, lounging, reading, watching our children play in plain sight. This adds a pleasant social element to their outdoor recreation. There's lots of spirited talking over the fence at passersbys. "Nice bike," someone might say to a neighbor's kid. Or "Is it possible that so and so is going to college. When we moved here he was just six."

On summer weekends, the people in Smartmom's building bring out canvas umbrella chairs, green plastic turtle-shaped pools and barbecues: they do a great imitation of suburbanites. They even have impromptu building-wide pot-luck barbecues, which include marshmallow roasts for the kids and lots of beer and wine. For the grown-ups.

"Anyone up for a barbecue?" is all it takes to motivate Smartmom's neighbors to check what's in the fridge and cook dinner outside.

For the next few days it'll be like old home week. If the weather stays warm, Smartmom and her street-neighbors will shoot the breeze with friends they haven't shot breezes with in ages due to cold weather and rain. Everyone will be in a slowed down, "isn't this a lovely day," kind of mood and they'll hear the latest news, all the Third Street gossip.

And they'll be out-of-doors for a change, back to living their lives out on the street near the window boxes and the garbage pails.

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