When we bought our house in Vancouver 6 1/2 years ago, the first thing we did was cut down a sad-looking fir tree, devoid of branches on the trunk with a few remaining near the top, that ran like a flagpole in the centre of the house, blocking light from coming into our upstairs bedroom.
Chop, chop, chop. And so warmth and light came in, literally from our windows (we also took down the black venetian blinds that were left for us) and metaphorically from our new neighbours and community.
Upon moving in, the neighbours came with Jamaican patties and stories and wine and we banded together to organize block parties and Canada Day parties and Christmas festivities at the school, and banded together to shovel snow and help babysit and fight crime, as they say. I had never been part of such a strong community with such great people who just wanted their neighbourhood to be better (all these years later, three of them are now on the Board for our...I mean, their...community centre still doing good deeds).
Just before Christmas we were in Vancouver and managed to get together with the old neighbours for a night. Stories flowed, as did the wine, and we left with warm hearts that grew three sizes that day, as they say.
Later, a short drive through the snow, and we were at our resting place for the evening cuddled up in front of a crackling fire.
"Do you recognize this wood?" my mother-in-law asks.
"You gave it to me when you chopped down that tree in front of your house in Vancouver."
And so the circle completes. Warmth and light still coming from 37th street.