A knock at the door late this morning, and the beaming, lovely smile of my neighbour Katerina shines through the gauze on the screen door. She has a plate in her hand, covered with alfoil. Greek Easter!
Every year Katerina celebrates Greek Easter in style. A keen churchgoer to her local Greek Orthodox church a few streets away, she's a quietly religious saint of a woman who practises all the traditions of this very important time of her holy year, and that includes baking traditional shortbread cakes and giving gifts of them to her neighbours.
Pammy and I have been enjoying Katerina's yummy shortbread for many years now. As she said this morning of all of us, her and Nick, me and Pam: "Nice neighbours". And it's true, we live separate lives mostly, but we really like each other and help out in whatever little ways we can.
It's such a blessing to have good neighbours, and such misery to have inconsiderate or unpleasant yobbos next door. In our case we've had the same neighbours for all the 21 years we've been here. Nick and Katerina on the west side, and Michael and Soula up on the east. Both couples have been the best neighbours, and we've seen their children change from school kids to young adults and, in a couple of cases, parents who bring their beautiful children around to visit, and sometimes stay with, their doting grandparents.
I've mentioned Katerina many times over the years I've been writing this blog. She waters our garden when we're away on holidays, and if I'm not up very early on Thursday mornings, she will have already wheeled our garbage and recycling bins back up the side of our house after the garbage and recycling trucks have paid their weekly visits.
For our part I always think we never do enough to repay them their kindness, to tell the truth. So we talk, have lovely chats and enjoy that simple pleasure whenever the chance arises. Nick's a keen gardener, Katerina loves gardens and deftly influences Nick's choices of what to plant next, so we have a lot in common.
One of Pam's paintings (of geraniums, which reminds Katerina of her mother) is in their house now. And a few days ago, I had the arborists in to again heavily prune the olive tree which would otherwise rob Nick of the much needed winter morning sun in his productive backyard. He always says "thanks, thanks, mate" because like all gardeners, he knows sunshine is as precious as rain. How could I be a good neighbour and rob my neighbour of sunshine?