Being a neighbor in the countryside is a little different than being a neighbor anywhere else, but several very important reasons.
National Good Neighbor Day took place on Sept. 28 this year, but being a person or family someone enjoys living next to (or near to) is something that requires thoughtfulness 365 days a year.
Just because we’re spread out more in rural areas doesn’t mean you’re alone or invisible. Yes, some folks revel in their privacy, but it’s always a good idea to know who is around – and maintain a decent relationship with them – just in case anything happens. If a situation arises where you (or they) need help, but you don’t know their names, are you a good neighbor?
Think about power outages, loose animals, stalled vehicles or, in even more dire situations, horrendous weather events. I’ve helped my neighbor Kim track down her loose dog; she’s helped me discover my escaped cat high in a pine tree. My buddy Bob down the road helped me plow out my driveway the weekend a Nor’Easter came through and my snowblower was down for the count. (I thanked him with cake.)
Honestly, food is a great way to break the ice. If you’ve never actually seen your neighbors out and about, take the time to stop by with some veggies from the garden, some tasty fruit preserves or a baked good. If they’re not home, leave it on the porch with a note, saying hi. Communities are built through acts like these.
Beyond the camaraderie, though, just be considerate. Check your property lines for fences that might need repair or tree limbs that may need to come down. No one like eyesores (such as rusting heaps of old vehicles in plain sight) so do what you can to take care of things like that, for yourself and for your neighborhood. If you have elderly people around you, now is the time to reach out to see if they need help raking leaves, or, come winter, if they’ll need assistance with snow removal.
I don’t believe in “random acts of kindness.” I believe being kind is intentional. Be a good neighbor all the time by intending to care about the land and the people on it all around you.