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.