Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When The Neighbors Knock

We moved into our house nearly 5 years ago. It was our first house and we had just a 6 month old Deacon at the time. We looked forward to meeting our neighbors and I had visions of borrowing a cup of sugar, or an egg if necessary.

Our neighbor to the south was a middle aged couple on a huge lot. our neighborhood has been built up as the older homeowners sold off land, so there is a wide variety of time periods in which the houses have been built. Anyway, this man had a huge garden, apple trees and appeared to be slightly obssessed with his yard and his land. And we come to find out, his fence.

Shortly after we moved in our dryer quit working. I had all of these clothes I couldn't dry, so I put up a makeshift clothesline in the backyard to dry some of them.

Then I left for work. Or shopping. Or something. Anyway, I wasn't there and I left my baby in the capable hands of my sister.

The neighbor's wife knocks.

We hadn't actually met the neighbors yet, so my sister didn't really know who it was. The woman firmly informed my sister that I had attached my clothes line to her fence. My sister went out and disconnected it from the fence separating our properties.

See, I didn't know how to figure out who actually "owned" the fence between two yards. Silly me. I know now.

So life moved on. Theneighbor apologized to Noah for it a couple of days later, and offered to help Noah put up a "real" clothesline in the backyard. Noah explained that our dryer had just been broken and that it was repaired now.

I resolved not to ask them for any sugar.

About a year later we got another knock at the door. The babies and I opened it to find the neighbor standing on my front porch, smoking a cigarette. I was annoyed about the smoke blowing into my house and my babies faces.

"Is Noah home?" he asked.

"No, I am sorry, he is working."

"Do you know anything about my fence?" He demanded.

I looked over at the his fence which was dividing our property. The top rail was decidedly bent.

"No, I don't." I answered. After the clothesline incident I had not come within 2 feet of his fence and didn't let my kids within 3 feet of it.

"Does Noah know anything about it?" He demanded again.

"I don't think so." I stated, "but I will ask him, and if he does I will have him let you know."

The conversation ended. I asked Noah about it. He stated that he had noticed it was bent when he left for work, but that he didn't know what had happened.

And we thought the issue was over. After all, it was made very clear to us that it wasn't our fence, so we shouldn't be responsible for any repair, right?

A few days later Noah was approached by the neighbor. The neighbor was in a bad mood. He was all yelly and threatany. To make a long tirade short, he basically thought that it was "unneighborly" of Noah not to come over and "discuss" the fence situation with him. He then went on to accuse us of tying a rope to his fence, hooking the rope up to an elusive brown pickup and then driving a few feet and bending the fence.
The truck tracks had been in our yard.
And the truck had been in our driveway.
Or not.
Every morning I would wake up expecting to see crime scene tape surrounding the fence and CSI's swarming the fence, looking for clues. Instead the neighbor sold his land and they put a road through and divided it into 6 lots.
Shortly before he moved and they bulldozed his house I came home to discover that he had removed the fence.
I hope he needed it at his new home.
Now we have an empty lot next door. My boys climb in the trees and "camp" there.
I still look over my shoulder.
Our neighbors to the north are wonderful. They are about my parents age, with daughters about my age and grandchildren around our kids age. They get little presents for the kids. We have had them over for supper. We get their mail.
But 2 days ago there was a knock on the door. Our nice neighbor was standing there.
"I don't want to be annoying, but I am concerned about Deacon's safety. He is leaning out, talking to us."
I immediately apologized. "oh, I am sorry. We talked to them about standing on the top of the chainlink fence and peering into your yard."
"No...I mean, right now. He is up in his room and he is hanging out the window talking to us. I don't want him to think I am tattling on him, I just don't want him to fall out."
Noah was up the stairs.
Sure enough he found the screen half out and Deacon hanging out.
I thanked the neighbor.
We had another discussion. It included windows, screens, fires, little brothers, possibilities of death and how to avoid invading the privacy of our neighbors.
When the neighbors knock, I cringe.


The extrovert's father... said...

Deacon - I was standing on the fence. I was talking to the neighbors.

Noah - Oh.

D: Did you see me?

N: Yes.

D: Was that a bad idea?

N: Probably not the best idea. You need to be careful of the fence. And you need to respect the neighbors, that's why they put their side of the fence up.

D: Oh, I was just talking to the neighbors.

N: Yes, and what did they have to say?

D: Nothing. I was doing all the talking.

Momma Bear said...

hahah you guys crack me up!

Grouchy neighbors suck, the older man from the beginning of the story.
I guess it's not awful to have other peeps grammas in yer business trying to "help" out (some would say controlling...) But I'm sure it gets annoying. I think I would cringe too everytime they knocked.
Thanks for sharing this story I have a visual image of an older gentle smoking on your front stoop and wavely wildly while pointing to "HIS" fence. haha

Deimel-Lurker said...

Young kids have no fear sometimes (mainly of the things they should be afraid of, ie falling out of windows 15 feet off ground)=-) Deacon is quite the character=-) And a cutie!

Karla said...

I (being the sister left in charge of the baby) remember being told that if the neighbors said that was their fence to say I was sorry and remove the clothes...I had laughed...was she serious that she thought someone who she had never met would come and ask her to not tie a little rope to their fence for the day. Well they did...and they rung the doorbell...which as much as I loved baby Deacon I didn't really want him to be awaken early from his nap.

Mrs. Jo said...

you know I love this post!