NORMAN — Old paths make good neighbors. Paths worn down from years of visiting or to borrow or return, to bring veggies from a home garden or for nothing at all but to visit.
Clare’s feet knew the way. She needed a cup of flour to finish her cake. “Donna, I’m letting myself in,” at her neighbor’s door. “I need some flour. Helping myself.”
Donna comes in with a towel around her head. “What kind of cake?” she asks.
“That shampoo sure smells good. Just making a chocolate cake for the family picnic.”
“Take some shampoo in a fruit jar and see if you like it. I get it through the mail.”
Grandfather Martin knows when winter comes the paths will be covered by ice and snow. So he makes good use of them in the summer. “Brought you some of my cucumbers,” he tells his neighbor three houses away. “Raised some really good ones this year. I know how your kids love these things.” He lays his fruit of the vine on the cabinet.
“Those look great, Papa Martin. Here, take some of our tomatoes.” His neighbor fills his bucket with ripening tomatoes from her windowsill. “Are you going to visit your kids soon? You might take more, some for them.”
“Haven’t decided,” Martin answers. “Depends on whether my lumbago clears up in time. I’ll bring you okra later on.”
Precious times were those when paths brought all the neighbor kids together. Days when homework from school wasn’t the only thing kids did at home.
“Play ball!” Ralph screams. “It’s my time to choose the game we play.”
“Fine. Then I get to choose who’s first on my team.”
“After that, let’s play ante over,” another says.
“By then we’ll have go in and do chores.”