Tuesday, July 20, 2010


This is the "after" shot.  If only I had a "before" shot so that my upset would be understandable.  Simply stated, the "before" shot would have shown nothing but plant life.  The vehicles and the street would not have been at all visible in the "before" photo.

This is a view from my property, from the driveway looking towards the street, away from the park.  I know that I am a mismatch for my neighbors.  This is a very uptight, clean-shaven neighborhood.  Each bush is trimmed to utter perfection, along with each blade of grass.  (Mercifully, my property hosts no grass, although it did when I moved in.)

My neighbors all happen to be retired.  Plant control is apparently an appealing undertaking for them.  One day shortly after I moved in, I was surprised, upon glancing out the window, to see an elderly  man traipsing through my greenery spraying an unidentified liquid out of a tank.

I ran outside, asking him rather excitedly what he was doing.  After recovering from being startled, he stammered that he was spraying the poison ivy.  Now, I'm as allergic to poison ivy as the next guy, but I spat,"Well, I don't use toxins on my property, indoors or out!"

The neighbors are still telling that story, with as much sense of awed disbelief as the day it happened nine years ago.  At least the squirrels and chipmunks here seem to think highly of me.  I've had handymen comment that they've never before seen such friendly wildlife.  (Herbicides do not create friendly wildlife!)

Getting back to the photo: it shows the results of many hours of labor by my retired neighbors.  The woman next door, who obviously has the proverbial abundance of time on her hands, became obsessed with the notion that plants underneath the lower branches of the blue spruce (which is somewhat visible on the right in the photo) were going to bring about the untimely demise of the tree. 

Mind you, the woman is neither a horticulturist nor an arborist, yet she felt somehow qualified to make that determination.  Not only that, but she managed to convince a host of neighbors of her theory.  She had asked me if I would mind if she pruned the plants behind my house, which were visible from her house (not from mine).  Of course I didn't mind.  But I should have recalled the saying "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile!"

I was distracted.  I was preparing to bid on a foreclosed house in the neighborhood I DO belong in (which happens to be outrageously expensive, thus the sheriff's sale was my best option.)  I didn't notice the gradual eroding of my plantscape brought about by the efforts of my neighbors.

And by the time I did notice, they had made such a huge dent that finishing was the only option.  In fact, in an act of complete and utter selling out, I actually helped them.  Last Friday, the day I was supposed to be buying my way into the long-coveted downtown neighborhood, I was home when the neighbors were hacking away my plantlife.  (They weren't properly removing the plants by digging out their roots!)  I went outside to investigate, and what could I do?  I couldn't ask them to stop, because it had become a half-finished excavation site.  I had no choice but to help hack, cut and bag.

The Child tore himself away from his computer long enough to come outside and witness the eye-popping event.  He pulled me aside and whispered, "Mother!  Why are you HELPING these people destroy our landscaping?"

I had no answer.  But I did mange to tell them that I wasn't too thrilled about the fact that my house is now visible from the street (whereas before, it was obscured by plantlife).  One of the men, the one who exerts the least effort to hide his disapproval of me, shot back, "That house was a prime target for break-ins!!!"

My response was, "The truth of the matter is that this house has never been broken into since the day it was built in 1962.  The criminals around here must be incredibly inept!"

He kept hacking in silence.



Lynilu said...

You're a nicer person than I am, I think. I would have been livid, beside myself and right into faces!! That takes unbelievable gall to simply march .... or did they creep? .... onto your property and proceed to "fix it."


I realize they probably mean well, but that is just over the top of overstepping boundaries.

B.S. said...

Lynilu, I'm not nicer than you. I'm just more of a whimp! At least I'm now reaching a phase in which I find that characteristic of mine to be intolerable.

Boundary setting has never been one of my strengths.


Aurora said...

Dear Betty,
sigh. I'm one of those neighbors that has a fetish for seeing.

I think your after picture looked lovely...

Try to think of it this way -- prospective buyers who like your neighborhood and street, will feel comfortable with yours fitting in as it does now, trimmed.

Thier idea of beauty may be different from yours, but it is THEM you are appealing to as you make a happy exit to the property that goes back up at the sherrif's sale and becomes your new home.

It's like the excellent clean-up job you did inside your house.
Now the outside and the inside are in synch.

Getting 'ready' is not always easy, yet the Universe recognizes and rewards it.

I'm proud of you.


Big Dave T said...

I've always said that I like diversity in my own yard, so I have a collection of odd plants, weeds and such, some grass too. But like you, I just can't see myself spending my golden years trimming, cutting and pruning to turn my yard into some sort of shrine. Every day I hear the whine and roar of mowers, weed-whackers, hedge-trimmers and (my least favorite) gasoline-powered sidewalk edgers.

Sorry to hear about your lack of success in finding better digs. Just remember this morning that last Friday was the big day.