This is my fifth winter in the Chicago area and this one is shaping up to be a corker. Not as bad as the polar vortex of 2013/2014 but lots of snow and freezing temperatures.
Unlike Ireland (I’m originally from a little village in Donegal in Called called Glenties) and the UK, each household makes clearing of snow in their driveways and sidewalks outside their house a priority. Clearing the sidewalks outside your home is mandatory by law.
Right on cue on Super Bowl Sunday we had our first major snow fall of the winter. So, Fiona and I were sitting waiting for the snow to finish, when we heard a scraping noise coming from our driveway, a sound similar to someone clearing snow. As we went to the window to investigate, we saw our neighbor Sarah, in a blizzard, with a snow shovel clearing our driveway.
Feeling somewhat shocked but also elated that we wouldn’t have to shovel any snow, we asked her why she was clearing our driveway, her response blew us away.
She said she was just being neighborly and wanted to do something to help us. She said she wished she could do more. I do not know why we were so shocked as this is typical of the neighbors and friends we have in this community. Sarah’s husband Fred has been clearing our snow all week.
While Fiona was in hospital over Christmas, I received many cooked dinners, food deliveries and offers of assistance from all our friends.
I come from a very rural part of Ireland where neighborly good deeds and kindness are taken as given. I certainly didn’t expect it in the suburbs of one of the largest cities (Chicago) in the world. I have been told it’s a “MidWest thing” but speaking to my colleagues at work, some of whom live on the east coast, I believe it is just human nature.
We genuinely want to help each other out when times are difficult and challenging.
In a world where our politicians seem hell bent on division and exclusion, it is so refreshing and reassuring to know that our societies and neighborhoods are united in helping each other and promoting inclusion.
Thank you to all our friends and neighbors, you have made living in the U.S. such a wonderful experience.