Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.

Source: See Rock

There’s a house being built behind us. There was a house there—a perfectly good house, but someone must have decided it wasn’t good enough because they bought the property and had the house bulldozed. Now they’re building a bigger one that, unlike the old one that had reddish brick, will be completely white with black trim. It’s a trend that started about a decade ago, I think, when my wife and I were on our way to work and noticed that a house we passed on our way to work each day was being demolished. Then a new all-white, black-trim one that was at least twice as big was built in the same spot, and sat empty for at least two years. During that time I guess it attracted the attention of other house flippers, since it wasn’t attracting any buyers, and they wanted to get in on the business of not selling houses so others like it started going up.

I really don’t mind the changing look of the neighborhood, but what I do mind is that, because the house behind us is going to be so much bigger than the one that used to be on the same lot, they’re cutting down a lot of the trees that used to be between us and the previous house. What I hope they realize is that, even though we have a fence in the back, technically our property line extends fifty feet past the fence, which means some of those woods are ours. It’s none of my business if they cut down every tree on their lot. For all I care they can dig up the entire yard, cover it with cement, and paint it green. But I like the modicum of privacy that our trees offer.

They also, once, offered some protection.

One Saturday, not long after my wife and I first married, I kept hearing a strange twanging sound every time I went out into the backyard. I could hear rustling in the trees too. I couldn’t figure out what it was but it also didn’t bother me much until the afternoon when an arrow landed in the ground a few feet from me. It was a hunting arrow and had hit the ground with enough force that I was only a couple of feet from an arrow in my foot.

My wife and I decided to drive around the block to check on our neighbors who had their name nicely printed on their mailbox. And they had a SEE ROCK CITY birdhouse in their yard.

Instead of knocking we went home, looked up the last name in the phone book—this was when you could still do that—and called. A nice guy answered. I like to think he was the one who picked out the birdhouse. He said he wasn’t the one shooting arrows but he knew who was responsible, and he was very sorry, and he said he’d put a stop to it right away.

I never heard another twang after that, but I did save the arrow just in case.

I don’t know when anyone will move into the new house, and I doubt they’ll be the types to practice archery in the backyard, but when they do I might just send over a SEE ROCK CITY birdhouse. So they have a reason to keep at least one tree.

Facebook Comments


  1. Allison

    The white house, black trim is alive and well in our neighborhood, too. We are also seeing a ton of tall-skinnies, but my least favorite trend is the humungalow – they tear down a perfectly nice older house, triple it in size and keep the bungalow look.

    The people behind us live in a humungalow, but they are also good neighbors. They once bought us some beer while we were doing some work on our fence.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I think the white house with black trim is intended to be a kind of generic look that will allow people who move in there, if they choose, to pick any other color combination they want.
      The nice thing about the humungalow–a word I’m going to start using at every opportunity and I’ll give you credit–is it at least sticks to the aesthetics of the neighborhood. A mile or some from us there’s what looks like a Spanish ranch house that went up about ten years ago. I have nothing against Spanish ranch homes but it kind of stands out.

  2. M.L. James

    I hope you get nice neighbors who value mature trees, Chris!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’d be happy to just have mature neighbors–oh, wait, I have one of those. He and I chat about comic books and Doctor Who. But, yeah, we may have to plant bamboo in the back to provide some privacy.


    The build-a-bigger aesthetically-displeasing house is all the rage here, too, Chris, which worries me because there is a sweet little house in front of us that is sure to be supplanted at some point by an enormous ugly house that totally blocks the view of the shore from our home. I see this trend every day on my walks around here. My analogy is that it’s as if the tallest kids were allowed to stand in front of the shorter kids in a class photo, so that only the first row is in a good position. Or, it’s like people standing up in front of you at a concert, refusing to sit down. Oh well. I’ll just enjoy the view while I can.
    ANN J KOPLOW recently posted…Day 3602: Showing upMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the view for now, and, if there’s a bright side, at least the tall house will encourage you to walk around to see the water again. We’re very tempted to plant bamboo at the back of the yard to get back some of the privacy we’re losing with the trees they’re taking down. It would provide a nice green wall.

  4. mydangblog

    Would you believe that green monstrosity that was build next to us is now WHITE WITH BLACK TRIM?! What the heck? And they cut all the trees down too, but at least we just have to put up with their loud music at all hours and not arrows flying into our yard!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I like to think the white with black trim look is just encouraging people to repaint the place something bright and distinctive, and if they’re playing loud music you’d think they’d want their house to look distinctive. Anyway I’m glad you’re not getting arrows flying at you.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge