There are many lovely people living in our little corner of Princeton’s third bench.
Good friends. Good neighbours. It probably explains why houses cost so much.
Particularly dear to our family are Bud and Diane, just next door.
They are well into their retirement years, and have children about our age.
They are also two of the most thoughtful and generous people it’s ever been our relief to know.
Over the past four years they’ve given so much to the DeMeer cause – bags of socks for the boys, kitchen utensils and small appliances, a guitar, and muffins, to name just a few. In summer and fall there is a steady supply of fresh vegetables and wildflowers from their impressive garden, passed over the back fence.
We struggle to return these kindnesses, but it’s not easy. We’re repeatedly told they have too much and don’t need anything, and they generally wave offers to help with yard work, or other outdoor tasks like mowing the grass or putting up the Christmas lights.
Last Monday night, though, presented an opportunity.
It was the evening of the first big snowfall, and around nine p.m., as the storm abated, I grabbed a shovel and headed for their driveway.
For context, I can count the number of times in my 53 years that I’ve ever shoveled a driveway, while sitting on both hands.
There’s just always been someone else more qualified around, and I ensured that by producing three sons, each the approximate size of a young bull moose.
Also, I haven’t been to the gym since the COVID outbreak in March. That statement is accurate in a technical fashion, and I’m sticking to it.
The snow was deep and heavy. After about 10 minutes of huffing and puffing, Mr. DeMeer stood in our doorway and hollered at me: “Honey, you are shoveling the lawn. The driveway is about three feet to your left.”
He didn’t even put on his boots and come outside. Typical supervisor.
Not sure how long it took, and it certainly wasn’t the prettiest of snow clearing jobs. However, I was satisfied when it was over and then enjoyed a warm, strong beverage in front of the fire.
Before going to sleep I remembered an early morning appointment downtown, and set the alarm.
I wakened, of course, feeling as if someone had given me a full body massage with a baseball bat.
Limping to the front window, my knees sank to the floor when it was apparent the plow had already been down the street, creating a three-foot berm of snow across the width of our own driveway.
The thought of having to deal with it, before even starting the workday, was so overwhelming I nearly cried. So I made coffee.
Returning to the window, there they were.
Bud and Diane together – two senior citizens who can truly be described as golden – working together, using their snow blower, and digging out my SUV.
That’s when I actually did cry.
Good friends and good neighbors are blessings we should never fail to count.