It’s always important to get to know your neighbors, but when traveling, neighbors who keep an eye on your house are indispensable.
We’ve been very lucky to have great neighbors over the years. Our back door neighbors when we lived on 28th Street would call and check on us and offer advice when they’d hear a newborn Meghan crying. During the nearly thirty years on 11th Street we had neighbors who built furniture for our girls from our discarded cabinets found on our trash pile and others who helped us celebrate the births of two daughters. One neighbor would cut our grass on occasion and another shared in ownership of a cat. We’ve had neighbors who watched over our house when we were away and who took interest in our girls. Neighbors have called to let us know they found our dog that escaped from the yard and one time we received a call to let us know they’d called 911 because our hedge was on fire. We’ve shared phone numbers, keys and alarm codes so we could watch out for one another. And of course with my brother living only a couple blocks away, we always had someone who could pick up mail and newspapers and check in when we were out of town.
Things are a little different living on the lake since we’re not in a neighborhood, but we still need to depend on neighbors. Less than a month after we moved, a tree limb fell on the shed next door, and we realized we couldn’t contact the neighbors who aren’t full time residents. Fortunately the limb caused no serious damage, but it did result in trading phone numbers.
Last week we got another reminder of the importance of watching out for one another when we got a call from our neighbor asking for assistance with sprinklers that had been running for nearly twelve hours. After trying to solve the problem and even calling her lawn service, the sprinklers were still running and she needed to leave. John said he’d check on it as soon as we returned home.
Fortunately, he knew a lot about the house next door and how to shut off the pump. He also knew the sprinklers might be controlled by not one but two timers, and after about thirty minutes of trial and error, he’d found the problem. Ants had caused a short in the timer for the sprinkler (a timer the owner didn’t know existed) and once he’d cut the power to the timer, the problem was solved.
This problem reminded us that exchanging phone numbers was not enough. When away, you need someone who can enter the house or garage to take care of an emergency, as well as the names and numbers of family members who can be contacted to act on your behalf when out of town. Keys, codes to keypads and emergency numbers have been exchanged. Hopefully, they won’t be needed, but it’s good to know we’ve got things covered.