Editor’s note: In the hood

You’ve had this conversation, perhaps every year: It’s April and the eaves start to drip and the brown mulch shows through the snow and the first yard sale signs appear and your kids’ bare legs reappear — and then yours do! — and you stand with a neighbor on the sidewalk and say, “I haven’t seen you all winter! Have your kids really grown that much in just three or four months?”

And they have. And yours have. And you remember you actually like that neighbor and your other neighbors. And you like your neighborhood. You start making plans for cookouts and trips to the park and National Night Out. Already? you say. Already.

Well the flip side of that conversation comes right now. Now is when we start to disappear from our neighborhoods, swallowed up by soccer and football practices and then by the snow. Now is the time when those kids start those mysterious three-month growth spurts.

Halloween feels like the last hurrah: A family in my beloved ’hood fires up the grill for the trick-or-treaters and their parents, passing out hot dogs in buns, wrapped in squares of foil. (“They’re organic!” they say. As if we don’t have a bag full of Tootsie Rolls.) And when we herd the kids up the steps and into the house, it feels like we’re saying good-bye to our neighbors for the winter.

Every year, I make the same pledge to continue outdoor life and recreation throughout the cold and snow. (Will this be the year I strap on the snowshoes? Stay tuned!) Every year, the short days and the heavy burden of coats and scarves and snowpants and mittens drive me back indoors. As it must my neighbors. So this year, I make the pledge again. (Join me?)

All that is to say, I love my neighborhood. I love the concept of neighborhood. And I’m so glad that when we asked you, our readers, to tell us about your neighborhoods, we heard from more than 50 of you, from nearly 50 different ’hoods. We did have to pick our favorites, as you’ll see on page 12, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s contest, so we can hear about more. And I hope you are, too.

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