Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our Neighborhood on the Fourth

Our neighborhood, although in Southern California, seemed to be transported to a more simple time and place yesterday for the 4th of July. Neighbors got permission from the city to close off the street. People set up booths for face painting, hat making, and fingerpainting. There were water balloon tosses, and a giant, bouncy water slide. There was all kinds of food, and people brought their bbq's and coolers right out to the street. The finale was bike decorating and a bike parade up and down the streets, with all of the kids riding their decorated scooters, bikes, and little cars and jeeps as patriotic music played.

I found the whole event to be just darling! In 2006, sometimes it seems as though we pull into our garages and never step outside to form a true community with our neighbors. The girls got a taste of what is was like for me, growing up in my little Rocking K neighborhood, going home when it got dark, running wild with all of the neighborhood kids.

In Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451, the character Clarisse reflects, "No front porches. My uncle says there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and not talking when they didn't want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things, turned things over. My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porches because they didn't look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn't want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking;, that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off with the porches. And the gardens, too. Not many gardens any more to sit around in. And look at the furniture. No rocking chairs any more. They're too comfortable. Get people up and running around."

I hope that our generation is able to slow down. To enjoy each other. To read! To sit and talk on the front porch (or the back patio). To enjoy nature. To sit around the table for family dinners at night. I hope Bradbury's prophetic words (written in 1953, before big screen tv's, cell phones, and all kinds of other distractions) will reverse with our generation. I hope that we value human connections more than anything else.

Ironic that as I write this, I sit and type at a glowing computer screen!

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