Just a neighborly event. The lightest of snows twinkled outside the windows. Someone said, You may not see each other for six months but you’re still glad they’re there. There was a list, a neighborhood email listserve, and these 60-odd people were on it.
The pot-luck took place in the carriage house of the local nature preserve, Teatown.
Such communal feedbags have a history, dating back to the sixteenth century, when pot-luck meant “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot.”
In this bowling-alone world, community often strikes me as a missing element. Or perhaps that’s just because mine is a solitary profession, handcuffed to my computer keyboard, staring out the window at the winter. I was happy now to talk to people I barely knew about books we’d read, about composing music, about keeping chickens.
Above all, we spoke about the deep drifts and ice outside that affect everybody.
As Bilbo Baggins once said, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
Someone brought a soup enriched almost to a stew with wild rice. Someone else baked a crusty bread. When the desserts came out there was a deep-burnished chocolate bundt cake studded with cherries that had folks lining up. We all shared food, shared companionship. A hat was passed to send kids to the local summer camp.
No one spoke about plumber referrals, or the other information that flies across the internet on the listserve. No one talked about rowdy teens on the roads, or co-mingled recyclables.
Above all, no one became embroiled in the deer situation, the bane of the neighborhood, the divisive question of whether to leave the overpopulation alone or somehow control it, and if so, how to do so. It would be a fraught conversation. We let it go. (Though some wry soul offered venison sausage on the buffet table.)
We were gracious, putting faces to names. We shook hands, kissed cheeks. We were neighborly.
Outside, it continued to snow.