The elm tree in front of my house, from my front porch, where I entertain a lotI live in the Berkeley Neighborhood in inner Fort Worth, an older neighborhood full of charming homes (mine was built in 1922) close enough to the hospital district and downtown that residents can avoid the freeway--a distinct bonus in my mind. We have wonderful huge trees, the kind that arch over the street forming a canopy. A huge old elm anchors my house to the street, and I live in fear that the city will say it's on its way out. Recently they came to trim it and pronounced it healthy. We have paved sidewalks, albeit some a little rough and uneven, and wonderful old-fashioned streetlights. Some houses are like mine--modest bungalows with that standard pattern--living, dining, kitchen on one side, and three bedrooms on the other; other homes are two-story, large and usually expensive. Many have been added on and undergone redos but in general the neighborhood has been good about maintaining ambience. There are few glaring mistakes and only one or two instances where the existing house was torn down to make room for a new one--a couple of McMansions but not bad.
It's a cohesive neighborhood with an active neighborhood association and a busy email "buzz." A dog runnning loose will be reported quickly, and neighbors turn out to help return it to the rightful owner. When developers wanted to build an apartment complex at the edge of the neighborhod, the association worked closely with them on such issues as noise abatement, lighting, traffic control, and a design reflecting the neighborhood. We'd rather not have the complex, but it will be the best we could get.
We are next to one of the larger city parks and the zoo--okay, that does cause traffic problems occasionally and there's an occasional report (rarely verified) of a coyote sighting--when seen, the poor animal must have wandered up from the river in the park. Within walking distance there are several good restaurants and a lot more within five minutes by car.
One of the things I find neighborly that I discovered a year ago or less, thanks to a friend, was the neighborhood dinner group. A small group meets on Tuesday nights, informally, for supper at the Old Neighborhood Grill. You never know who will be there or if you'll end up eating alone--though that rarely happens. I'm impressed that most of these people are involved in their churches and community, for instance with Leadership Fort Worth. One has been a mainstay of the neighborhood association for years. They're people who take their community seriously. Conversation is always lively, and tonight it touched on what a gem our city has in the University of North Texas Health Science Center with its pioneering programs. One of the best forensic medicine programs in the country, with experts who are called on worldwide to do work; an outstanding Alzheimer's research program. Those were but two, but I know there are many more.
I was involved with the health science center, once a stand-alone osteopathic medical college, from its earliest days, and it gave me a secret glow to hear these people praise it. They know nothing about the early hard-scrabble days--though maybe someday I'll tell them, since it's a subject I've written on.
Neighbors can be the nicest folks on earth.