Living in a new neighborhood is always different. There are different little unspoken "rules" that everyone follows - unless one lives in a neighborhood with an HOA where the rules are not only spoken but are part of a written contract - and it takes some time (and close observation) to learn the rules. I feel vaguely uneasy about being forced by peer pressure to follow those rules once they are learned, but that is a topic for another day.
Since Ben and I moved here in early December, everyone was pretty much indoors most of the time - as were we, of course. But as winter faded into spring and we spent every minute we could outside, we noticed that we were, well, the only ones outside. No one else was trimming their shrubs or raking the dead grass from their front yards. That could have been because they had been taking care of their yards right along while ours had received minimal care for we didn't even know how many months.
As the weather warmed up and the grass greened and grew, we finally saw some activity. A lot of activity. Especially from our neighbor across the street with the beautifully-manicured lawn. We saw him outside on a weekly basis, wearing scrubs and a surgical mask as he mowed and edged and watered his lawn. I tell you, he has scrubs in every color of the rainbow. We saw other neighbors outside, as well, although many of them employ lawn care services to keep their yards beautiful. Ben and I just don't want to go that route, and not just because of the cost. I am increasingly uncomfortable with the heedless way our society uses harmful chemicals, and I just don't want to be a part of that. So, once again, we have one of the crappier front lawns instead of one of the nicer ones. Such is our fate, it seems.
The fact is, though, we spend very little time in the front yard. It is much smaller than the back yard, for one thing, and we have a very small front porch. When we are outside, we are, for the most part, "out back". Our large (to us) fenced-in backyard is where we have planted our garden, as well as the trees and shrubs we bought and had planted at great expense by a local nursery. It's where we take the dogs out to chase around and eat things. It's where we enjoy puttering around, planting and picking and pruning. We are out there alot. So here's another strange thing we have noticed: generally we are the only ones out there. We can see, like, six backyards from our back porch, and no on is ever outside doing anything. Seriously.
We worked hard to arrange our patio furniture just the way we wanted it on our little back porch, and when weather permits, we love to eat outside at the glass-topped table we brought from our house in Kent. What we really like to do on the back porch, however, is watch it rain. As I am sure I have mentioned, it really doesn't rain much here, but when the clouds have thickened and thunder has rumbled and rain finally seems imminent, Ben and the dogs and I hurry out the back door (well, we carry the dogs) and we all sit on the glider and wait for the first raindrops to hit the porch roof.
I don't think I can describe the pleasure it brings me to just watch it rain. Oh wait, I already have. One of the first posts I wrote on this blog four years ago detailed my love of a good, soaking summer rain. Lucky for me, Ben shares that enthusiasm. So the four of us sit out there and just watch it rain. If any of our neighbors see us, I'm sure by this time they just shake theirs heads and think, those new people are sitting out in the rain again. But, you know, that's just what we do, and they'll get used to us as we get used to them -- in their houses, somewhere, never coming outside.