Sometimes you can save money just by sharing among your neighbors.

Our neighbor Tom brought over a wheelbarrow of stuff for us last night. For me, he had a box of old photography books and magazines. “I found some more darkroom equipment, if you want it,” he added. For Kris, he had two boxes of pears. Two big boxes of pears. He also brought back one of Kris’ jars — when she gave it to him, it was filled with freshly-canned pickles.

Across the street, the grapes are beginning to ripen. They’ve got a couple of weeks left, I’m sure, but I can’t wait. John loves to share. He’s in Alaska right now (he spends his summers there and his winters in New Zealand), but he’ll be home soon to ask. Or maybe his renter (and GRS-reader) Travis will help me pick some fruit.

John’s a crotchety old guy, but he’s cool. He’s been pleased with the changes we’ve made to the place since we moved in two years ago. That summer, he gave me permission to rummage through his scrap lumber for whatever I needed while working on the place. He’s been in the house for probably thirty years, and he’s made a habit of collecting scrap wood from around the neighborhood. I took four pieces that used to be part of a telephone pole, and I sunk them into the ground to act as posts for my grape arbor and my raspberry arbor.

Tom — the same fellow who brought us the pears — let us take cuttings from his grape plants. Now, two years later, our plants have established themselves, and they should bear fruit next summer. At that time, Tom also let us dig up several twenty-year-old blueberry plants that he no longer wanted. We offered to trade him some rose bushes in exchange, but his wife is allergic to them, so we gave them away to friends and family instead.

While we were in San Francisco earlier this month, we asked Kurt and Tammy come over to keep our tomato plants picked clean. (Tom snagged some also, I think.) When we got home, Kris went next door and picked a bunch of Gravensteins from Tammy’s apple tree.

John’s tenant, Travis, is a web developer. He sometimes uses my wireless connection; in exchange, he’s taught me how to make it secure. Last weekend, he needed to replace the battery in his car, so I drove him to the auto parts store. We chatted about frugality and about web design. He recently vacationed in Jamaica. He brought back some high-quality coffee beans for us. Edwin lives next door to Travis, and is a trained mechanic. He’s going to help Kris change the oil on her car and check all of the fluids, etc.

Tonight, Kris’ sister (who lives about a mile away) came over to help Kris can the pears. They didn’t get them all finished. “There’s ninety pouns of pears here!” Kris told me. That’s a lot.

Note: I actually wrote this at the end of August, thus some of the timing is off. We’ve been harvesting grapes for the past week, for example.

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