January 20, 2015

City Slickers

I live in the town limits of a small town that is north of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  Over the past two or three decades, more and more city slickers have moved here, wanting their little slice of country, that is still within commuting distance of their downtown jobs.

Six years ago, our long-time neighbor widow decided to sell her place.  Her large property and its pond had been the hub of neighborhood events, and all the kids had a standing invitation to fish in her pond.  She even left her canoe out for them to use.  The acreage became too much for her to take care of, and she sold to a city-family with infant twin daughters.

The first red flag came when the indignant woman of the house came flying out in a rage when two neighborhood kids showed up with fishing poles.  The man of the house owns a fishing supply store and fishes professionally, so I was trying to cobble together some justification for her anger...perhaps he had stocked some precious practice fish or something?  Nope, she was offended at the nerve of those kids, just walking right onto her property and daring to fish in her pond.  She started rambling about liability and insurance coverage, which is when I knew that I should just walk away, rather than try to explain how our former (and clearly ignorant and reckless) neighbor had given the kids blanket permission to fish.

I am surprised that she made it these past six years without installing a fence around the pond to keep kids (including hers) out of the water.  She has taken a dramatic, though no less concerning turn toward 'country living'.  One day last fall, I couldn't get the dogs to come when I called, they were barking at the back corner.  Next-door-lady was brandishing a rifle, determined to get a shot at the coyote that was picking off her chickens.  Watch where you point that thing, lady!

This past weekend, the man of the house, along with his father-in-law, took advantage of the warm weather to take care of some outdoor chores.  Now, we take the opportunities we can, to mulch up leaves over the winter.  With a heavily treed street, there is no sense in being militant about raking - the wind will blow tomorrow and deliver a new batch.  Well, city slicker neighbor thought he would rake up little piles of leaves and set them ablaze.  Along our fence line.  Just as the forecasted 20 mph winds kicked up.

To his credit, the neighbor quickly jumped our fence, put out the leaves on our side that were burning, and raked additional fuel away from the fence.  I guess he thought we wouldn't notice the brief inferno, or the hours of smoke, as he didn't bother approaching us.  Mr. H went over and shared with them the process of checking the fire marshal's website to see if it is an authorized burn day before setting things on fire.  Next time, I will just call it in and let him get the ticket before he burns my house down.

Not surprisingly, we don't interact much with those neighbors, preferring the neighbors on the other side of our property,  Unfortunately, they are going to put their house on the market soon, as age is catching up with them, as well.  I need to go advocate for a much more thorough vetting process so I don't get anymore city slicker neighbors.

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