Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Doorstep clothing swap

The bulging bags appear on my doorknob with no note. The contents are like gifts from a very practical Santa.

Snowsuits, snow pants, boots, fleeces, all in exactly the right size! As the world's worst shopper, I'm dizzy with gratitude.

And the elves behind this useful stuff?

The moms on the block who keep track of my child's dimensions in relation to their own. "She must be 3T by now," they calculate and presto: we've got turtlenecks, flannel pajamas, coats and pants.

"From who?" Amelia now asks when she puts something on—because everything comes from someone! Dee-Dee, Lucie, Stella, Esme, Jesse, Dylan, Adam, Ella...

People I barely know have given us things by the bagful. Just living on the same street makes us eligible to win the jackpot.

If getting a bicycle stolen from in front of the house (2 bikes gone this winter so far) fills me with disappointment, the stream of neighbourhood hand-me-downs restores hope.

The givers of stuff just say: "We're happy to get rid of it. There's nowhere to keep it!"

A neighbour dad echoes this sentiment, waving to include the houses up and down the street. "This is my storage," he says.

It's true. The minute the clothes get too snug or the toys too babyish, I'm aggressively generous; on the lookout for some smaller, younger recipient, saying, "Here! Want these? Take them. Now!"

I leave bags on people's doorknobs with no note. It's like getting rid of surplus giant zucchini,  but perhaps more appreciated on the receiving end.

So far, I've only heard about the bedbug epidemic in the media. However, our street was mentioned (ominously) by name in La Presse in connection with the infestations. If this stops people from accepting hand-me-downs, the whole perfect system will unravel.

Looking at the size of the shallow closets in our apartment (covered with strange and ancient wallpaper) reminds me that people must have had less stuff 100 years ago.

We need more now! Everyone around here seems to be building—adding onto the back of row houses, or onto the top, or digging out the basement. It's like magic, conjuring up space where there was none.

But when that's not an option, depend on your neighbours' space. The up-side of small. Pass it on.


Anonymous said...

No worries - the doorknob technique is perfect in Montreal winters: -20 degrees kill all bedbugs that could possibly be in the bag... (in the summer this treatment can be done in the freezer...)

Janna said...

If you're really worried about beg bugs heat is the only thing that will kill them. A good 30 min in the dryer will do it. I worked in beg bug control on Vancouver's Downtown East Side where it is an epidemic, and learned from the Las Vegas Bed Bug Convention when they were enveloping three story buildings in order to steam the bugs to death.

Sarah Gilbert said...

interesting. so there are two solutions?
extreme cold or extreme heat...

meee said...

interesting blog.

Limited Vision said...

Thanks again, Sarah, for the enjoyable read. I think Anon is right about cold, and Janna about heat (our best choice in Vancouver this winter). All of us a sensitive little critters, I guess.

Andrew said...

What is it about zucchinni that everyone always has extra? Nice one, Sarah. Now I'm of to the Brandon Head Lice Convention - there's a dress up ball the final night.

marthajane said...

What Feb 1, 2011, 11:10 said: super cold weather kills the critters! and the giving of the clothes is a wonderful way to share and build community (hey! I recognize that shirt!)
It's (one of)the best parts of living in a community and being a parent.~martha (watt, in Mimico-a tiny corner of TO)

krista said...

hand me downs! hand me downs!!