Ah, spring! How wonderful to feel the warm sunshine and balmy breeze, see the spring bulbs blooming and the trees in bud.
Like just about everyone else in the neighborhood, we celebrated the change of season last weekend by getting outdoors — albeit briefly. And as liberating as it was to shed some layers of clothing and breath the fresh air, something was … off.
It was very, very calm and quiet, but for the distant shouts of the neighborhood kids.
There were no soap bubbles floating through out yard, no chalk drawings in the driveway. No tricycles to dodge. No one poking her head through the fence to see what Mr. Basil was doing, no one shedding his shirt and pushing around a toy lawn mower in the yard next door to be “like Mr. Basil.”
No one was hanging from their swing set or our cork tree, flitting among the laundry drying on the clothesline, knocking on the door to see if Catherine could come out or if they could come in. The patio remained empty, with no reason to pop popcorn, open a bag of chips and jar of salsa, unwrap some ice pops or set out a platter of grapes.
No one brought us margaritas, asked us to check a child’s boo-boo or weigh in on a new clothing purchase or gardening effort.
It’s the first spring in more than eight years that we’ve greeted without our former neighbors, who moved to a bigger home in town seven months ago.
Basil, especially, had a hard time without their four kids around.
He missed sidekick James helping him clean the garage, wished for Lily to follow him around or Isabelle to pipe up with some questions. He wondered how big baby Cameron must have gotten since we saw them at Christmastime.
I pointed out that we could go visit them, but he fairly pouted, saying they must surely be busy with lots of new friends and things to do.
You can imagine our joy, then, to find Jaclyn and three of the four kids on our front lawn Sunday morning. It was as though we conjured them!
Turns out Lily insisted on seeing “Mr. Basil” on the way home from Target. She greeted us all at a full-speed run that ended with bear hugs all around, then walked in like the mayor and surveyed the house.
From room to room she led Basil by the hand, pointing to the idle ceiling fans and demanding first that he “fix it,” then that they go “faster.”
James got every stationery object in his sights, then shot foam darts over and over while Isabelle bounced on the hassock. Then, all at once, the three of them were in the den watching the Disney channel.
Alas, a trunk full of frozen food and the baby’s imminent feeding time cut their visit short. Catherine was required to walk everyone back to the car and see each child all tucked into a car seat. We set a tentative date for a barbecue, and blew and caught kisses as they set off.
Those few minutes were exactly what we needed.
Like the change in season, their brief visit warmed us, heart and soul.