When I lived in the city, I considered my neighbors to be the folks who lived around our block. Our children grew up trick-or-treating together, riding their bikes up and down the sidewalk, and yes, we would occasionally even borrow that cup of sugar or stick of butter from each other.

Every fall, we would gather, potluck dishes in hand, at the yard down on the corner, and every winter we would all descend on the green tiled house to celebrate the holidays. It was hard to imagine leaving that neighborhood, but we took a deep breath and made the move to the creek.

I did wonder, as we made the move, if I would ever find that feeling of neighborhood in our new country home. I wondered what it would be like to live without being able to see or hear our neighbors, whose homes are almost a mile away, up or down the curving creek valley road. How naive I was.

It seemed that in no time, folks were driving down the road to stop by and say hello. When we would go up to town to run errands, folks would inquire where we were from, and when we told them we had moved to the farm down by the creek, everyone seemed to know of our old tobacco barn, sitting for the past 100 years right by the side of the road. We heard many a fond memory of fishing, or falling in love, or hanging tobacco. It seemed that before I could have ever imagined, I had more neighbors than I could even begin to count.

It is now the rare occurrence when we leave the creek that we do not stop to pass the time with a neighbor, catching up on the honey harvest, the chickens or the prospects for this winter’s maple sugaring. So it did not surprise me this past week when a friend called to say that someone had suggested that she should ask me if Greg and I could help her dispose of a large hornets’ nest that was hanging from a tree in her front yard.

I stopped by her home, and yes, there was the papery gray nest blowing in the chill breeze, not quite 20 feet up in a tree, squarely in the middle of her front yard. And then it occurred to me that I had another friend, who had a beautiful collection of several hornets’ nests hanging from the rafters in his shop. I called him, and yes, he would be delighted to add another to his collection. He advised us to cut the limb from which the nest hung and deposit the nest, branch and all, into a large trash bag and securely tie the top.

I knew that the nest was way too far out along the limb to be able to get close to it with our extension ladder, so we decided that Greg would climb our eight-foot stepladder carefully balanced in the back of our pickup truck, which we had parked directly under the nest. Extendable loppers in hand, Greg climbed the ladder as I held it steady. He snapped off the branch and handed the nest down to me, and I quickly pulled the black plastic up around it. I briefly pulled back the plastic to show our neighbor, and she exclaimed how glad she was to have it out of her yard.

I listened through the plastic. No sounds from within. The hornets must have already died out with the cold, but our friend had told us that lively hornets had once dropped from a nest after he had hung it up in his warm shop. He advised us to be careful.

We drove straight to his home, not letting the truck heater get too warm. He was waiting for us, and as he peeked inside the bag, he told us that he would spray the inside to finish off any potentially surviving hornets. He was smiling ear to ear, glad to have the nest to add to his
collection.

So it seems that one neighbor had suggested to another neighbor that she call us to help her solve her hornet situation, which had in turn resulted in yet another neighbor happily adding to his hornets’ nest collection. And I just have to smile.

We may not be able to see or hear our neighbors along the creek valley road, but I certainly know that we have become part of a wonderful new neighborhood.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.