Company’s Coming, Be Prepared
My husband and I host a block party every year and this year we had a fine turn out. This year was particularly exciting because lots of the newer neighbors have started to have babies, the older ones got chance to get to meet them, and the more seniorly ones got to tell us about the history of the subdivision. After all, they are the ones who had the place built. It’s a neighborhood in transition from original owners to new young families. My husband and I who fall somewhere in the middle have always felt it’s beneficial for folks to know at least a few of their neighbor’s names, which in turn might raise a better sense of community in our sweet little subdivision. This being our seventh annual gathering and our eleventh year living here, we’re confident that our “dastardly plan” is working.
One particular neighbor who attended, moved in just this June and he is such an interesting person. My husband Jeff, had struck up a conversation with him about work, and it turned out that they both have occupations that deal with public safety. Jeff is in the campus security business and is a policeman. This new neighbor is a disaster preparedness expert and works for one of the biggest hospitals in our area. You can imagine the conversation they had.
Being ready for disaster is something that affects everyone in some way eventually, but on the neighborhood level the two men started to brainstorm about what could make our little few blocks a safer, and more secure place during a crisis. The night wasn’t long enough to go into such detail but they decided to get together again and talk about different ways we could be prepared as a neighborhood should a disaster happen.
Weeks later we had him over for dinner to talk more about the finer points of preparedness, and wow! Since he has his masters degree in this area, he shared some very good ideas that are implemented at the hospital, such as triage, fuel and water storage, and communication, that our neighborhood could also implement to be best prepared.
Well, this diva also cares a lot about the neighborhood, and if you are invited over, you are in for the same treatment my own family enjoys…that is to say, I’m going to feed you….so, here’s the food section of this story: A crumble topped apple pie was the first thing to prepared. I had a surplus of apples that needed attention and this pie was a great way to use them. I’ll admit, I don’t make pie for the family every day, but for company, you can bet pie will be featured.
When the pie was done, I went out to the garden to snip some fresh parsley and tarragon for the chicken I would be roasting. I put some inside the cavity with a little red onion, salt and pepper, and used the rest to flavor the outside by mixing the herbs with butter, and working it under the skin of the bird. I made a quick couple of sides to go with…mashed potatoes and pan gravy, green beans, and a souped up couple of boxed stuffing mixes. Using the onions and the spices I used in the chicken, I sauteed them in olive oil on the stove-top added some water and the crumbs, then baked it along side the chicken for a bit to brown over the top. I didn’t get photos of the meal when it was done, but the left-overs still looked pretty good as I put them away at the end.
Our guest this evening, was a transplant from South Dakota, a fairly recent graduate, living by himself, and my spider sense told me that home cooked meals are not something he has the chance to have often. A good supper was a nice relaxed backdrop to talk over all the disastrous scenarios that one could encounter and of course since this a food blog, food just had to be involved in this story. After all, you need food to survive too….and this will conclude the food section of the story.
As we talked over dinner our South Dakota friend had snowstorm stories that sent chills down my spine, and he was brimming with great ideas that we could employ in our own little neck of the woods should a weather disaster befall us. A phone chain was one of them. Another was a method to communicate special needs of a neighbor using color coded flags or pieces of paper posted in the window. For example, if there was a power outage, an elderly neighbor could post a red flag or piece of paper to indicate to other neighbors that she has no way to get out and get food, or a green flag could indicate that this particular household is OK…no need to check up on us. An absence of a flag would be a definite check and so on. Just this simple code of communication could help keep most of our little community safe and cared for in any emergency. At our next block party we will have the chance to talk about it to other neighbors. I know that many of our neighbors will be open to these ideas.
When neighbors care for one another, the benefits don’t stop at just being friendly with each other. It keeps a neighborhood safe and secure. I want the kids around here to have a safe place to play, the elderly to be checked up on, and anything else suspicious to be addressed. It was really great to make a new friend a couple of streets away, especially one that has so much to offer if times get really tough. I hope this neighborhood always has a strong sense of community because that’s what will help keep up its value…not just the monetary kind, but the altruistic and humanitarian kind as well. Heaven knows the world could use a little more of that.