My wife and I own a home in the College Heights neighborhood where we have lived for about four years. In the backyard is a small, one bedroom apartment that we've rented out to various folks while living here. We started out with a young woman named Amy who was living there when we bought the house. When she left for an out of town job, our friend Josh Love moved in. We spent a year as neighbors before he headed for Detroit. For the first couple of months of 2016, we were on the lookout for new renters. As we cleaned up the apartment and did some basic maintenance, a couple of folks from down the street walked through the alley and struck up a conversation. Alfredo and Brandy are a middle-aged married couple who were living with her mom a few doors down. I met Alfredo last summer when I had more tomatoes than I could eat from my garden, and passed bags of them out to neighbors. They liked being close to family to help out with the house and other errands, but were hoping to find another place to stay that didn't involve sleeping on a couch. They were excited about the possibility of living close to family but having their own space. Sure enough, we were able to work out a deal for them to move in.
Before they were ready to bring their furniture and other belongings over, Amanda and I heard a knock on our door. When we answered, Alfredo was standing on our porch. His wife had just informed him that they had bought us a gift to thank us for renting to them. We assured him that no such gift was necessary, but he insisted. Curious, we inquired as to what they had purchased for us.
Alfredo replied, "The finest of chickens."
They had noticed that the chicken coop left by Josh Love was empty, and ordered some chickens for us. If you were to check our backyard shed, you'd find three growing chicks that we're excited to begin laying eggs in a few months. Combine them with our rescue black lab puppy, fluffy orange cat, and the goldfish, frogs, minnows, turtles, and crawfish that call our small pond home, our house on Hickory Street feels more like a farm, especially after planting three raised bed gardens and some strawberries in the aquaponics bed.
All this got me thinking how it all started with a simple visit and some extras from the garden. Unbeknownst to me, Alfredo had moved in the day before I brought him the tomatoes. A small gesture had stuck out in his mind, and that kindness was repaid by them helping us get renters quickly and through a gift of chickens. Those eggs will end up being shared between us, as will the fruit of the gardens. Small kindnesses on both sides have led us to having a much stronger communal bond. We are helping each other out and both benefitting from the process.
Today, I'm thankful for good neighbors like Alfredo and Brandy. I hope we can both continue to be good to each other and make life here in College Heights great for both our families.