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The Fairest Hood of All…

Published on: June 22nd, 2011

Step over our proverbial welcome mat, make yourself at home and help yourself to the inaugural issue of HOME&HOOD. We’ve christened this special edition a “user’s guide” for those who call Boulder County and the North Metro area home. It’s been crafted as your not-so-technical how-to manual for day-to-day life here.

Before you dig in, I want to acknowledge that a neighborhood is more than the sum of its parts (homes, schools and speed bumps). It should be judged by its proximity to the nearest Vic’s about as much as a woman should be judged by her collection of purses. Having a Whole Foods, a wine shop and a bagel place just around the corner is a perk, but a neighborhood it does not make.

More so, it is the spirit created by the people who call it home. It’s the essence of the neighborhood and the connection between the homes and the people within them. I know, sounds like a pageant speech.

But there is something so indescribably nostalgic and sacred about the idea of the neighborhood: a sense you get when you pull up in the moving van and neighbors offer a hand. It’s that feeling you have on a Sunday afternoon, watering the front lawn and an ice cream truck chortles by; on your morning run when the streets are empty; and when you look out the window to see your kids racing down the street on their bikes.

It’s the vital yet silent relationship we have with our homes and neighbors.

This spring, I was reading the newspaper in a downtown Longmont coffee shop—the one in my neighborhood. I was minding my own business when a men got my attention.

“’Scuse me,” one said. “Are you a local?”

He didn’t let me answer. Eyes sparkling, he awkwardly continued. “This is the best place to live in the country.”

It wasn’t really a question, yet he and his friend looked at me for approval. The men were on a day trip from Denver. They were scouting out America’s No. 1 Place to Live, he told me. Their wives were joining them later, for dinner and maybe drinks, in America’s No. 1 Place to Live. They loved the downtown, very sweet, just as they had heard. Of course it is. How else would it be in America’s No. 1  Place to Live?

“Longmont wasn’t named the No. 1 place to live,” I interrupted. “It was Louisville.”

Disappointment instantly shrouded their faces. Their jaws hung low and slack. Their cheeks blushed enough for me to realize that I had ruined their afternoon plans—if not the entire weekend. One got on the phone and called his wife, telling her they had come to the wrong place. The other turned back to me, clutching his car keys.

“Where’s Louisville?”

In minutes, they walked out the door, leaving Longmont in their dust.

I got on my bike and rode home, past immaculate historic homes with big yards shaded by big trees and front porches bigger than my bedroom. My neighbors were setting up for an afternoon barbecue. Another was taking care of the small garden she so artfully tends. Kids down the street were climbing the big oak out front. All was indescribably well and perfectly pleasant.

It was a nice moment to linger in.

Let the visitors have their maps, day trips to the ’burbs and magazine lists. I’ll take my neighborhood any day.

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