The Gift of Home and Hearth

J Philip Faranda November 1, 2011

Prepared for trick or treating in the snow48 powerless hours and two chilly nights where the temperature in our home hit the 40’s can affect a guy. Like many people who lost power in the worst October snowstorm ever to hit Westchester County, we had to “camp” a little in our home, getting acclimated with flashlights, candles, sleeping bags and fireplaces. Two powerless nights were rough in different ways; the first night was out of routine for the children, especially Gregory, who is on the spectrum for autism. The second night was better for the kids, even a bit more fun, but virtually sleepless for me, because it was bloody cold and I was constantly feeding the fireplace every 90 minutes for some ambient heat. 

With the lights out in our neighborhood that long, we decided that even after power returned that the kids should trick or treat in the old neighborhood, Ossining’s renowned Indian Village, where I grew up and where we spent the first 6 years of our marriage. Even though we were “carpet bagging,” it was, I have to say, nothing short of awesome to have people I have known all my life pour affection (and candy) on my children. Some of these people were there way back when I was trick or treating!

It gave me get a deeper appreciation for two things I already held dear- the roof over my head and the community where I live. I am lucky to live in my home in Chilmark. I was lucky to be raised in the Indian Village in Ossining. And I love my neighbors in both places. 

The roof over my head has been an itch I couldn’t scratch lately. I wanted to replace our bay window this past summer but we didn’t. We need to paint the interior from the wear and tear of 4 crazy children. I had a leak in a bathroom that caused some sheet rock damage I haven’t yet fixed in my kitchen. It ever ends. And I will either fix that stuff now or later but after experiencing what it’s like to “squat” in my own place I’ll never let it make me forget to be thankful for shelter. 

Catherine's Briarcliff Police Project- which came home today!Earlier today I almost blew through a stop sign and ended up being pulled over by a police officer. There had been flag men there for weeks who just left, so I absent-mindedly “went” and then recalled, almost too late, that the stop sign remained. And who would be the officer to pull me over but one I knew, who once went to my home to make sure all was OK. And he didn’t pull me over to ticket me- just to make sure I was OK. He knew our neighborhood was dark for two days and we were out of sorts. That’s the community I live in. 

So, from the good folks who patted my children’s head tonight who also patted their dad’s 40 years ago, to the cops and my home’s happily-returned heartbeat, I have to say that I am one lucky guy. I live in a wonderful place. And I’ll never take my home or neighbors for granted. My home may not be 2011 fabulous, but it is mine, and it is warm again. And my neighbors? Never a cold moment there. 

Westchester County is a special place. And Briarcliff and Ossining are the special placiest of all! 

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