That’s what neighbours are for

Paula Tessier
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When I moved from Hickman’s Harbour to the big city for university at the ripe old age of 17, I went from a high school class of 13, to a MUN psychology class of about 100 or more.

In Hickman’s Harbour, we knew everyone. Need a bit of Carnation milk for your tea, but the store is closed? No problem — take your pick of who to ask. The Maytag repairman had no idea where Hickman’s Harbour was, so if your washer conked out, you fixed it yourself. If you needed a part, a soldering gun, or an extra set of hands, there were willing participants all over the place.

So, going from that environment to living on a street where you didn’t know a soul, was an adjustment of epic proportions.

However, more than 20 years ago when hubby and I settled into what has become our family home, we instantly realized that the folks around us were pretty nice people, and perhaps since we were raising our families at the same time, we should get to know each other.

It didn’t take long before the first phone call was made for a tea bag or an extra potato. Back and forth we went, on a fairly regular basis. It was like having a neighbourhood store right next door, for each of us.

We never kept track of who received what. If we had it and it was needed, we gave it.

Before long we went from the phone call to the knock at the door. Then from the knock at the door to the quick tap, then turn of the handle, and automatic entry. And for many years now we have advanced to not only just walk into the house, but to go straight to the cupboard or fridge.

It works for us.

So, last year, when we purchased our haven in Green’s Harbour, I found myself wondering if the neighbours would be welcoming or not.

Probably our third weekend there our question was answered.

There was a gentle knock at the door. I opened it to find the lovely woman who lives across the road not only greeting us, but holding a bag of fresh fish. If that’s the Welcome Wagon, sign me up!

They have since offered a spot in their driveway when our own driveway wasn’t cleared of snow, a path was shovelled to our front door, and yes, there was also more fish.

I was in a meeting recently and my cellphone rang. It was these same folks telling me that the howling winds somehow smashed a window in our very old shed on the property, but not to worry, they patched it up for us with a piece of board so nothing inside would get wet or damaged.  

One night last week, I was a little tentative, but then delighted,  when my cellphone rang and I saw it was my Green’s Harbour neighbour. Was something wrong? Did something happen with our place there? A little anxiously, I answered the phone: “Hello?”

“Hi Paula, it’s me. Don’t worry everything is alright with the house. Now, all that rhubarb you’ve got growing there, you going to eat all that?”

This is our first spring with this new place, so everything that grows is a surprise at this point. But thrilled with the question, I was happy enough to say, “Take what you want, my love, we’ll never eat it all!”

And last weekend, over a barbecue on the deck, our other neighbour chatted and he, too, was offered to take whatever he wanted. To which he replied, “I’ve eaten more than my fair share of rhubarb from that garden.” And, sir, that tradition will continue.

Love thy neighbour.

It’s a wonderful way to live because you never know when you, or they, might need a tea bag, and extra set of hands, a hammer, or rhubarb!

Email Paula Tessier at

Organizations: Maytag

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    June 18, 2013 - 18:44

    It's a sad day when when you can live next to your neighbour for 20 years and not even know their name :(