Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good Ol' Neighbors in the Good Ol' South

At one time, when I first purchased this Southern Homestead, the entire backyard was encircled with a 6 foot privacy fence. Like the old adage "Good Fences make good neighbors,' that fence helped me define the relationships with several of my odd neighbors, and over the years there have been several.

When I was a kid, we barely knew our neighbors.  My mom never seemed to have the time to put into getting to know them, but we at least knew them by reputation or in passing.  Once I moved into my own house, I vowed to get to know the people I would be living near. I think my mother knew something she wasn't telling.

On one side, the house was a rental.  After we moved in, the people renting that house had a small fire.  The owner decided then and there to stop renting it.  The house has stood empty now for more than 15 years.  The owner works on it from time to time, fixing the burned flooring, adding a brickwork porch, or taking out the trees, only to plant new ones in a perfect straight line... because ...well...just because he can, I guess. He also put in the big sturdy fence you see above, so at least I have a privacy fence on one side. 

In the back, I just never got the chance to meet or know my neighbors, except for one time when I went out to work on my swimming pool.  (The pool is gone now, the victim of a heavy storm.)  Sitting in the bottom of the pool I found several rocks of varying sizes, mostly 'hand-sized', and a line of these same rocks from the side of the pool to the back fence.  It didn't take a team of forensic scientists to determine that the rocks had come from the back fence, and right in the one place where the bushes and trees sort of formed an open spot. Hmm, target practice?

I took a walk around the block and went up to the back neighbors house. She was a very nice woman with an engaging smile and a gaggle of younguns running around (who oddly disappeared when the door opened.) I explained to her that the rocks seemed to have come from her back yard and her smile disappeared and her face grew dark. She thanked me, apologized for her kids and said she'd take care of it.  As she closed the door, I heard her hollering for her brood.  Never had any more trouble with rocks in the pool. But I never got to know them any better either. 

On the other side of the house from the empty one, there was also a rental, which was later sold to the nice family living there now.  While a rental, I had to deal with several different families which over the years included a couple of ornery  kids who beat their dog for fun, a man who liked to peek through the privacy fence at my wife swimming in the pool and a woman who felt that since she mowed the strip of my grass which bordered her driveway that she owned it.  I still shake my head at that bit of suthun logic.

My neighbors across the street are all easy to get along with, not to mention my good ol' Suthun Buddy, neighbor Bubba - a regular in this blog.  

The fence is gone, the victim of a tornado and I've never had the time (or funds) to replace it.  The privacy fence was merely for show, as a chain link fence was there behind it.  And the growth of trees and bushes has helped the privacy to some extent, but I will always miss that big privacy fence.  Keeping things hidden from your neighbors may seem a bit selfish, but in the end, that also makes good neighbors and good neighbors are part of the Suthun Tradition.

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