Friday, August 5, 2011

settling in

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.


Ben said...

Yes we've always liked watching storms roll through by staying outside right up to where the rain is blowing sideways. The good thing about this house is that we don't have to dash through the rain to an uncovered door that's 6 feet away.

I'm glad we agree on not pouring chemicals on the yard. You know, people are all like, drrr, must kill the grubs, they leave bald spots in my lawn. Well you *could* just put grass seed down and water it. Those chemicals that kill grubs pretty much kill everything in the ground. This includes immature cicadas and beetles. So what? Well, lightning bugs are beetles, that's what. What would your kids think of you if they knew you killed baby lightning bugs?

When you picture us out here in Maryland, picture us out back, watering with the hose, or trimming with clippers, or weeding with our digger and little yellow pail. Or picture us on our covered porch, on the glider with the doggies, watching the rain and wind and lightning like a couple of kids. Happy kids.

anne mancine said...

It's a pretty big yellow pail...

EostreEgg said...

I also have one of the crappier front lawns on my street, and mine is also a choice. I don't like the idea of spreading chemicals and wasting water to keep a non-native species (grass) alive. I often joke about mowing my weeds, and it's true: my yard is mostly clover and a mix of other grasses. It's green, i keep it trimmed, and the soil won't wash away. I'm sure my neighbors judge me, but that's their problem!

anne mancine said...

This is by far the most suburban neighborhood we have ever lived in, and although we chose it for how safe and quiet it is, I am enough of a non-conformist that I often feel uneasy here. For example, EVERY OTHER house in this neighborhood has those crappy little vestigial shutters on it. We had ours removed when the house was painted, and have no intention of putting them back up. In fact, we have been steadily (and stealthily) putting them out with the trash each week. Ben still thinks there will be repercussions.

The most recent issue of the neighborhood newsletter remarked that "some people" were planting vegetables in front of their houses (gasp!) a practice that is frowned on here. Now, see, I LIKE to see healthy growing tomato plants or whatever, and find that infinitely preferable to the ubiquitous "foundation plants" our houses all sport. Uneasy, like I said.

jamanci said...

glad you'll never fuss with lawn chemicals. :) i loved growing up with a yard that flowered, instead of one that was just grass. violets, dandelions, and clovers make the yard better, not worse!

also--i wonder how many of your neighbors are spending their time in their back yards, just like you--or waiting for the cooler weather of august!

anne mancine said...

Well, none of the ones whose backyards we can see are out there, I can tell you that.