The simple joy of safely borrowing items from your neighbours. LAURA MCBRIDE PHOTO

A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood: The Borrowers

There’s no denying it, I like a good deal and love hand-me-downs.  I’ve never had a new car and even bought my husband’s wedding ring at a cool little thrift shop in Kensington Market. His ring was plain, silver and perfect but admittedly a little bit too big. 

My husband is thrifty in his own way. He’s a creative, handy type of guy that fixes our cars, built me a shed out of a neighbour’s old deck and welded our garden gate from my old bike.

 We live in a neighbourhood that suits that level of thriftiness. It’s the kind of place where people share extra baking, plants and tools, and where more than a few of us have confessed to swiping unloved treasure from the end of a nearby driveway.  

Now that so many of us are feeling isolated in our tiny kingdoms, we’re realizing the benefits of small gestures like waving to a neighbour as they drive by. But have you tried asking your closest neighbours for a favour? Have you ever asked them to keep an extra key, bring in your garbage can, or borrow a tool?  

Borrowing is good for your soul, especially as a means to get to know the people who live close by. It’s an easy way to introduce yourself and start a conversation, saves a few unnecessary items from our landfills, and it offers neighbours a chance to know and show kindness. 

 Community builder types reference the “cup of sugar rule” as an indicator of neighbours who know each other well enough to ask for small interactions.

One day, as I was dragging a yard waste bag to the end of our driveway, my neighbour called from across the street.

“Hey, Laura do you have plans for those leaves?”

…what did that mean I wondered.

“Our compost needs the nitrogen” she explained, “can we have your leaves?”

I made a sweeping gesture with my hand and told her to take as many bags as she needed, then walked away satisfied with my tremendous generosity.

And that’s it. This story couldn’t possibly circle back around.

Until a while later, when I got a text from my neighbour:

Does this look familiar? she texted me, with a picture of her outstretched hand holding my husband’s Kensington Market wedding band.

It was plain, silver, perfect and almost lost forever in a yard waste bag, but then my neighbour swiped an unloved treasure from the end of a nearby driveway. 

Laura McBride is a downtown Kitchener resident, artist and photographer.