Thursday, April 23, 2009

There goes the neighborhood

Yesterday they put up a "sold" sign on the empty lot next to us. Maybe I should be happy about that . . . after all, new construction is good for the economy, right? But there has been so much change in just one year. When I left for Vienna last March, our house was "the house at the end of the street." There was a pleasant distance between us and our nearest neighbors. When I got back home in September, I found our once secluded house and yard overshadowed by a huge GI-GAN-TOR house next door, and a new house under construction at the end of the cul-de-sac. 

We used to have hundreds of beautiful old trees on our street. That was one of the things that made it different - and special. Late last year, one of the lots across the street sold. I nearly cried when I saw them mark the trees to be cut. At least thirty really nice trees . . .  sycamores, maples, birch . . .  gone by the time I got home from work that afternoon. It just made me feel like crying.  Just a few weeks later, the other lot across the street sold, and another twenty or so good trees were felled. What was once a beautiful wooded area is now a "ghetto" of scrub and brush. (For the record, they only had to cut four trees to build our house, and I felt guilty enough about that.)

With the new houses come new neighbors. Most are pretty nice people, but some . . . well, honestly, some don't seem to know very much about being good neighbors or about living in a community. It's so interesting what can be observed from a back porch that gives you an up close and personal view of at least five houses. There's the teenager who sneaks cigarettes in the backyard (how can a parent NOT know that their kid is smoking???) and the father who boldly takes his kids fishing in the retention pond even though there are multiple NO FISHING signs (and who would want to fish from a retention pond anyway? Ew!) There's the family who let their two Labrador retrievers run around off leash and poop in their neighbors' backyards, and the little gang of badass "tweens" who ride down the middle of the streets on their souped-up bikes. 

It's getting a little too crowded here if you ask me. And . . . egads . . . it's just April. I can only imagine what it will be like when summer gets here. Oh, how I long to live in the country, where I can be free of homeowner's association rules, selfish neighbors, and all the other pitfalls of suburban living!