The Unexpected Benefits of Talking to Your Neighbors

One of my new hostas

Some of my new hostas

There is a woman who lives across the street from me. Her front yard always has decorations for almost every holiday. When the weather warms up, she puts her efforts towards decorating with plants and flowers. Her flower baskets are gorgeous  – full of color, big blooms, long-lasting. I guess you can say I’ve watched her for the past three years, gathering ideas (for my flower gardens, not holiday decorations.) We have spoken occasionally.

It occurred to me that she has a bit of experience with all things green and since other gardeners were unable to answer my question about something growing in my backyard, I decided to ask her. It turns out I have wild onions growing in my backyard. This question turned into a twenty-minute conversation on plants and landscaping. Then, she mentioned she has tried to thin out her hostas, but couldn’t find anyone to take them. I all but jumped at the offer. The very next day they were waiting in a bucket for me. I planted them right away and already they are making themselves at home in their new backyard. I have a feeling I’ll be talking to her a lot more this summer.

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Welcome To The Neighborhood

I first noticed it when I went to the car, which was infrequently these days. Someone had let their  dog poop on our property. I am not a dog owner, and therefore am not accustomed to picking up excrement with a little plastic baggie. The thought of having a thin piece of plastic  be the only barrier between my fingers and some squishy poo was a little more than revolting to me. Yes, I had changed hundreds of diapers and cleaned up after the cat when she had an accident,  but for some reason I was squeamish about dog poo. I ran back inside to get the rubber gloves and not one, but two plastic vegetable bags. The poo would not separate itself from the rocks that served as our parking space, so into the bag they went. It was a good thing I brought an extra one for double bagging, because I did not want the bag to break open and get permanently cemented to the inside of my city issued trash bin.

The days went on, and I noticed there was always a present for me by the car. Each time, I let myself grow annoyed, but soon began to take hand sanitizer, gloves and bags with me on the way out the door. In the back of my mind I wondered who could be so rude as to let their dog defecate on another persons property without so much as cleaning it up. I would stare at it, thinking that someone had left their version of a basket of goodies on the porch with a nice note saying, “Welcome to the Neighborhood”.

We were relatively new to the neighborhood, so we kept this brazen breach of neighborliness to ourselves. The people I did see taking their German Shepherds or Labradors for a walk seemed to be polite and responsible pet owners. Would they dare to use my backyard, a formerly unoccupied space, as a potty for their pups? Probably not. I began to suspect it was someone from the other side of our alley, or even someone who lived a few blocks over.

The little piles continued to arrive, and I continued to seethe with anger.  I knew I would have to tough it out a little longer until we could get a new fence for the property. I began to view anyone with a dog with suspicious eyes. When I went to my car, I looked around at all the windows. Someone had to be watching occasionally, or else why wouldn’t there have been an encounter after so many months of enduring the poop fairy? If there had been, what would I say? “I have a plastic baggie, in case you’d be interested in cleaning up after your terrific terrier?”  or “Smile. I’m sending your picture to the city. The fine is now $250 for failing to scoop.” Or a sign that said “No Dumping, Private Property”.

I found myself falling asleep to plans of leaving dog biscuits laced with chocolate in the alley, setting up a poop cam in the backyard and  getting estimates for an invisible fence. I was giving this whole situation too much of my time and mental energy. I decided to stop obsessing over it and shortly afterwards, the dog decided to find a new outhouse. At least for now. Now, off to Google fencing companies.