It was so…weird to be out with the kids trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 but it was also kind of nice. The streets were busy with costume-clad children, many more house lights were on and more homeowners were participating in the event than last year, that’s for sure.
One had an elaborate bucket and rope delivery system, another had a big PVC pipe to drop candy down to children from the second floor balcony. Many chose the risky unattended bowl of candy method of delivery while others had tables they set treats out on and replenished with each group that came to the door. It was nice to see everyone’s creativity on display — for costumes and candy delivery methods alike. It was good to be back. Some traditions are meant to be continued.
Speaking of traditions, I last mentioned Renee Closson not too long ago after she tipped me off about the meanings of the coloured hay bales in fields of area farmers. I first met her, however, through her chalkboard quote tradition, back in November of 2017. Out for my regular walks, I kept noticing the chalkboard next to her front door always had a new quote on it. Eventually I asked her about it.
“I love quotes and words. I find them among the most inspiring things. They can challenge you or inspire you or make you laugh,” she said. “I was always writing down little quotes and putting them on my fridge and I had the chalkboard and I thought, well I’m going to put quotes on the chalkboard and hang it up outside. It was kind of my way of trying to connect to people even though I wasn’t out there chatting with them myself.”
(It makes even more sense now that we’ve navigated nearly two years of the pandemic. Any connection to those around us in the new world of the six-foot rule is welcome.)
Over the summer, in addition to the chalkboard, I noticed a different sign on Closson’s property: a for sale sign. My heart sank. What would become of the board? It always gave me a smile. It wasn’t even gone yet and I was already mourning it.
Given the state of the real estate market, the house quickly sold and Closson moved a few months later. To my surprise and great delight, however, the board stayed with the house!
“Welcome home Palmer family!” was Closson’s last message.
I’d been meaning to drop a note off for the new owner to see how she came to keep the board but hadn’t gotten to it for one reason or another.
But, traditions gave me a prime opportunity. Specifically, Halloween.
Taking the kids trick-or-treating on Halloween night, we happened to visit Closson’s old house. I explained who I was and to my surprise, Koren Palmer knew the story of the chalkboard and was happy to chat.
With my kids itching to get their free candy, I had a quick chat with Palmer and we went on our way but I caught up with the home’s new owner again a few days later.
Palmer explained that Closson had left the board and all of her chalk supplies behind for Palmer to continue the tradition, and so she has.
“I was thrilled when Renee asked me if I would carry on the quote board tradition if she left her original board for me,” Palmer said. “Those who know me know I love quotes. Now to be able to share them for our neighbourhood fills my heart right up.”
In fact, her husband often sends her one in the morning when he’s away at work.
“It’s kind of our thing,” she admitted. She hasn’t had the board for long but already it’s getting noticed. So far the little chalkboard has done for her what it did for Closson. It made her, and others, smile.
“I was looking out the front window tonight, so many people were out walking,” she said. “I saw one couple stop to read the board and they looked up with big smiles, returned my wave, and gave me the thumbs up.”
If that’s not a ‘welcome to the community’ I’m not sure what is. Apparently it wasn’t just me, it seems everyone in the neighbourhood was wondering what would become of the chalkboard when the house sold.
“It’s definitely a habit I need to build but I’m excited for it,” she said of the chalkboard. Palmer has even put a modernized swing on the quote board, adding the hashtag #palmerquoteboard for folks to follow on Instagram.
So, like I said, some traditions are meant to be continued, and it seems like the chalkboard tradition will do just that.