Thursday, September 24, 2009

These are the people in my neighbourhood…

I think I may live on the best street ever. We moved to Clare St. in 2002. It was our 2nd house purchase and there was just something about the place that I loved. We moved in and, with one exception that I will not go into here, were warmly welcomed to the street by all our lovely new neighbours. I was super happy to learn that there was already a boy Jacob’s age on the street and lots of other kids to play with.

It didn’t take long for us to realize that we had really had landed on a gem of a street. That first year we attended a block party, with all the neighbours, held in two back yards joined by gates. Many of the backyards on our street have gates linking them up. It’s a great thing and such a little thing, really. Then, three years ago, we all decided we should do something to celebrate Fall. We already had a Christmas carolling night, a New Year’s Eve street gathering, a late spring block party, and numerous other informal get-togethers including a street mosaic making workshop, a street sign workshop in which we cut out various animal and child shapes, painted them, and stuck them around the street to alert drivers and to get them to slow down, and a street book box where we drop-off books and pick up new ones. A Fall Fair seemed like an ideal addition to our repertoire of community building events. There is no shortage of energy for community-building on our street.

The first Fall Fair was such fun that we did it again last year, and this year we celebrated our 3rd Annual Fall Fair under beautiful sunny skies.

We started with a bike parade



Then played with a huge castle of boxes. DSC04853

There were bubbles:



and a game of street hockey. There was also the annual tug of war with East vs. West (West won thank-you very much) and North vs.. South (South was cheating as per usual and ‘won’ again).



And then the fire truck showed up. With the firemen. And, no, there wasn’t an emergency, we invited them. They are so great with the kids and really friendly with everyone, letting the kids climb all through the truck.


Mr. February in the Clare St. Honorary Fireman’s Calendar. Hey it’s a good idea.

This year, they brought out the hose and let the kids shoot it at the street.

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What can I say? I do love a fireman with his hose…

The firemen told us they like to practise with their hoses regularly. And even though they are just the 1.5” hoses, I would just like to say here that they are welcome to come and practise on our street anytime. No, really. I insist.

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Even the kids had a good time.


After the cupcake walk (mental note to self – need music for next year as a group of parents lamely droning our way through ring- around-the-rosy over and over made the whole thing a bit funereal rather than celebratory but who cares really. Right, Finley?)DSC04943

Then it was time to get ready for the BBQ Dinner and, of course, the Fall Fair Exhibition. There were a number of categories but all you really need to know is that we are all winners here on Clare St. Especially me and my blackberry jam which won best preserve, and Zoe who won for best cookies and something else that escapes me right now.


Various other neighbours were also recognized for their excellence in baking pies and desserts, growing the largest carrot, best cornucopia, best bread, wine, etc etc. If you can find it on our street, then chances are good there was a category and a ‘winner’. Thanks to Phil for organizing the exhibition and for bringing in a ‘New Era in Transparency’ for judging the exhibition. Hilarious.





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Then it was time for dinner:

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at which point the band arrived.


Leon (that's him on the left) lives at the end of our street and teaches most of the men folk on Clare how to play the guitar. We loved his new band Lucky in Love. They played a short but awesome set of standards and original music. There was even dancing. With the crisp light of early evening and the lovely singing, it was a magical moment.

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By then we were ready to eat all the dessert and pie entries.

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The desserts were amazing. I especially enjoyed the Butter Pie with Plums. You just can’t go wrong if you use at least 2 lbs of butter, throw in some flour & sugar, and a few plums, and bake that baby. I think this is is how Gloria made her butter pie, or whatever it was called. Actually, WHO CARES what was in it, or how she made it, it was delicious. When in doubt, throw in more butter.

And did I mention the other pies were outstanding, too. Yum. And also the butter pie.


What kind of street party doesn't have a fire in the middle of the street? It’s become a tradition to haul out one of the neighbour’s chimineas. We all sit around it trying not to catch on fire as sparks and embers jump and swirl around us. It’s quite lovely, and a good source of roasted marshmallows which seem to materialize out of thin air as soon as the fire is lit.


Then it was time for the Walk-In Movie held in the driveway of one of the houses on the street. The garage door was a perfect place for a screen, and the sloping driveway was the perfect  place for the kids to watch Wallace and Gromit. Sleeping bags, pillows, popcorn and hot chocolate competed the scene.


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It was the perfect end to a perfect day. After the movie we hustled all the kids to bed and then enjoyed some kid-free time around the fire-pit.

I am so grateful to all my lovely neighbours for making our street such an amazing place. So much community in such a small place! You are all so lovely and I consider myself blessed to be surrounded by you.

Thanks for reading,



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