The neighborhood has felt different to me since the boiler started its work this fall. A summer of work on the front porch and with open windows made me feel connected to the neighborhood. I was inundated with neighbors saying hello. I felt like neighborhood crime was an aberration – who could commit theft or assault when the neighborhood was overflowing with concerned citizens?
As winter descended on us, the windows closed, the neighbors stayed inside more, and I stayed indoors, surveying the neighborhood from behind glass. I’ve noticed that the first thing I do when I see something suspicious is open a window. It’s impossible to hear the tone of conversation, pinpoint a house alarm, or hear the crunching of footsteps when it’s dulled by window panes.
Today, I opened the window to talk to some neighbors checking out their house after an alarm. The chilly breeze swept into the room, but it had the smell of spring to it. “Soon,” it said clearly enough. It reinforced the feeling of winter-long isolation.
My first Michigan summer without central air conditioning is going to be rough. All the high ceilings and fans in the world can only do so much as I work from home. But, I look forward to feeling connected to the neighborhood again. I look forward to knowing which neighbor is passing by, not seeing just another bundle of jackets and hats charging by. The sounds and smells of Woodbridge have been behind glass far too long.