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Neighborly note on the blackboard

Against the Grain, the library journal, does profiles of people in the industry with a standard Q&A. One of the questions is, What is your philosophy of life? I am neither religious nor particularly philosophical, so I said the first thing that came to mind, “Walk the talk.” A shortened form, I’ve just read, of the idea that if you talk the talk you should walk the walk.

There talking about community, and there’s doing the things that make it real. This comes to mind today because I came home to find this note on the blackboard in the kitchen: “I turned left front burner on the stove off for you – Kimball Oil.” They’d come to fill the oil tank and check the furnace, and also took care of a little domestic neglect. This is one of the best things about living in Great Barrington, and so much what the people who’ve lived here all their lives are like.

“Is that the nicest thing anyone around here’s ever done for you?” my son Tom asked. I told him about the time after we moved in when the first milk delivery came (we used, only a few years ago, to get local milk in glass bottles). The neighbor across the street, a local man whom I hadn’t then met, saw the milk , knew he’d seen me leave for work, and came over with a cooler and ice to bed the milk bottles down for the day!

Then there was the time that a guy who does lots of environment-focused writing and building community – who’s moved here from the city – came by with his child to drop off a book. They walked past the newspaper lying on the walk, and simply left the book by the door. A local person would have brought the newspaper, too, and would have rung the bell and handed both to me and chatted for a minute.

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