Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Starting Boise

The past 7 weeks have been fairly chaotic since I decided to leave the job I'd occupied for 5 years and the city I’ve lived in all my life (minus a short, one year pause in Berkeley). Now that the move is over though, my brain seems to be better absorbing this amazing change and each day there is something new that delights me.

Here are my initial discoveries about Boise:
Little, cozy, but not green. What to call it?
1. Be prepared to say hello. Nearly everyone who crosses paths will say hello or, more likely, will say hello and follow it with a lengthier greeting. For example, while walking Maile tonight, we passed a man who called out “hello, good evening, nice night for a walk” from his porch with enough pause in between words for me to respond appropriately. A stranger! Sort of engaging me in conversation! 

Five days in and I already know the names of my neighbors on all sides, their kids’ names, their dogs’ names and know where they are from and what their occupations are.

All this friendliness has been startling to a gal used to the cool, aloof workings of a bigger city. For perspective, after 4+ years in the Little Green House, I semi-regularly chatted with only one of my neighbors and never learned her name (and don't think she knew mine either since she always just called me Baby). Its hard not to feel a bit cynical here when smiled at and greeted kindly. All. The. Time.

People are just nice here. The classic good-to-other-humans nice we all seem to want but don't have time to create in our overly busy, technology distracted world (or maybe its just me). It's the kind of nice you’d expect if you lived in Mayberry, Mayfield, or a Norman Rockwell painting. People know their neighbors and pause at crosswalks to allow pedestrians and bikers to cross without getting pissed about the delay. They say hello from their porches, at the grocery store, while riding by on their bikes, while talking on their phones, when playing a game of horseshoes… Perhaps outside of my pretty neighborhood its different, but even if so, I’m doing my best to put aside my suspicious metropolis mentality to embrace the small town cordiality of this city. And say Hello often. 

2. Kids ride their bikes to school. On their own. I have read a number of depressing articles recently about how kids nowadays don't get to roam free without constant parental supervision. When I was a kid, we freely played in the “woods” near our house, walked to the store to get a 15cent candy treats, or went across the street to play with neighbor kids. Its made me a little sad to think my nephew might not also have freedom to find adventure as he grows up. 

Then I came to Boise.

City of Trees, an ironic nickname to
a girl from the Evergreen State
Kids here ride their bikes to school alone. Or  they walk there with siblings or neighbor kids carrying pink and blue packs on their backs, no parents in tow. Sure, a parent on hand as the crossing guard to help them get to the other side of busier streets, but from what I have observed, they are free to be kids, to roam, draw hopscotch on the sidewalks in chalk, play on the swing two doors down and find their own way.

3. There are squirrels everywhere. Big ones. There are also big trees everywhere. Big, beautiful trees with leaves that are quickly turning yellow and orange and dropping acorns and other edibles to the ground. And the squirrels are going kamikaze crazy about them!! They zoom across the street, in front of the dog, along the fences and across rooftops to fly up branches and tree trunks to their hideouts where they’re stocking up for winter.

So far, Maile is baffled by these robust, chubby “toys” that are so oblivious they don't even care to taunt her. She wants to chase them, but before she takes off on the hunt gets distracted from one when another runs into view.

Squirrels. Everywhere. Up and down oaks, elms, locusts and cottonwoods that line every street in this “City of Trees.”

4. The sky is, in fact, blue every single day (so far). I keep waking up thinking it will be different but the “gray” I see as I rub my sleepy eyes is merely the sky at its softest blue as the sun slowly rises. I do not miss the rain, yet.

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