One of the things that I didn’t like about my house at first was just how busy the street it’s on is. Two blocks over the road is a fast four lane highway, so even though it’s cut down to two lanes in front of my house, people still drive like it isn’t.

In non-quarantine times there is often back to back traffic at rush hour. You can hear people honking or cursing at each other when someone gets cut off, and I’ve seen wrecks at nearby intersections. Even from my bed at night I can hear the cars and trucks and ambulances zooming by. I’m able to tell if it’s raining or snowing before I even look at the weather by the sound of wet car tires or the snowplow’s characteristic scraping.

I’m always picking up fast food wrappers and go cups from my front yard, and when I’m cleaning or mowing or gardening I can catch whiffs of the cigarettes and cigars and pot people are smoking as they drive. Bits of their car radio music gets stuck in my head.

There are also a lot of people walking on the sidewalk. I live at the converging point of three major bus lines, and in between a set of senior living apartments and a grocery store. There are a lot of single family homes and duplexes and apartment complexes and now an influx of expensive new condo blocks in the area. Parents with strollers and young couples with dogs and Indian extended families for whom a daily after lunch or dinner walk is the custom. There are also the men who look a bit grizzled and make their daily route to the methadone clinic, a sense of tired resolve in their eyes.

There are some safety issues to consider. My cat will always need to be an indoor cat. I am careful crossing the road and want to make sure we have a good set of gates and babyproof door locks for after our daughter is born (due in late July!). We have a camera for tracking package deliveries.

But what I didn’t like at first – just how busy it all is – has become one of the things to make me most happy lately.

Working in my front garden means people often say hello as they go by. Sometimes they’ll stop and comment on certain flowers or colors, or say they’ve noticed and approve of the improvements we are making, or that it’s nice to see people doing such work, or reminisce about projects they’ve done that are similar.

The fence we built has a flat board on top that is almost like a skinny bar table. The garden bed in front of it is narrow. This makes a space perfect for leaning your elbows against or setting your water bottle on if you end up having an extended chat. Sometimes people do.

I’ve had conversations with random elders and guys who do landscaping or build fences for a living and women who have their own front yard gardens and want to share plant cuttings or discuss tips.

Quarantine hasn’t stopped it. In fact, some people need to chat more now than ever.

There was an elderly gentleman from the senior living apartments who stood outside our driveway for about five minutes on Saturday, supervising our installation of the blueberry bushes. He likely can’t visit with his family if they are doing anything similar right now. So a solo walk and a chat with the neighbors and checking out the work younger people are doing is likely quite good for him, makes him happier.

No matter how long this quarantine lasts, and in a city like Boston it will probably be a while, I can stay over six feet apart, social distancing, but not be lonely. I can feel surrounded by community and like I am part of it.

I also realize that while I am home working on this, I am making something that isn’t just beautiful for me, but beautiful for all of us. There are so many people who, like me, would love to see some wildflowers or peach blossoms or smell roses and lantana and a sweet bay magnolia in bloom when they are outside. Or who enjoy a bright pop of color on a door or a fence in the middle of winter.

Yesterday I was trying to move the stepping stones again, because we had moved and installed some other things in the garden and I still have not yet achieved that gentle sloping S-curve I desire.

A couple people going by yesterday commented that they saw I was moving the path again, and I joked that at this rate I was going to be trying every wrong way first before I got it right.

What I heard back were supportive comments, encouragement to keep going and that they’d be sure to notice and appreciate it once I got it there too.

I decided that I will plant some giant sunflowers, put them against the tall outside portion of the fence, planted thickly enough to where someone walking by could take a selfie with them and not feel embarrassed or like they were intruding, but just happy to be in the area, taking part in something calming and healthy and nice.