Generally speaking, I think neighborhood covenants are for the birds. I’m all for neat yards and stuff, but I really don’t need nor want a community board deciding what shade of beige I can paint my house. My neighborhood, thankfully, does not have covenants. There is the occasional derelict house with a half dozen abandoned cars in the front yard, but most folks are pretty responsible.
We do, however, have a community email group. I’ve been almost-cancelling my membership for the past year. Usually it’s a force for good (“Can you recommend a good electrician?” “Beware of the guy soliciting for a fake charity.”). Lately it’s become a forum for bitching and mass hysteria–not unlike the comments section of any major news site. Only slightly more polite. Slightly.
The ruckus started months ago when a neighbor posted an email to the group asking if anyone knew who owned a gray cat that had been pooping in her yard. If no one claimed the cat, she said, she would take it to the shelter. This launched an epic brouhaha that was cleanly divided between those who felt that the neighbor was being reasonable, and others who felt that she was as good as strangling the cat with her bare hands.
When I say the argument was cleanly divided, I meant that it was divided among the six people who actually cared enough to post about cat crap. The other 500 neighbors on the listserve didn’t give two poops about the issue. But here’s the problem — the email group is a group, with each new posting appearing in members’ personal email inboxes. So like it or not, the rest of us were unwilling witnesses to the Great Cat Turd Debate of 2012.
This week’s gripe was the backyard burning of leaves. “I prefer to leave my windows open if it’s under 90 degrees, and the smoke irritates my sinuses.” And so another bitch session was launched. Today, while walking the boys and Dwight, I passed a neighbor burning some brush in an old metal wheelbarrow. The fire crackled merrily, with a whiff of smoke drifting up into the trees. I smiled at his small rebellion and wondered if the complainer lived nearby. That thought was immediately pushed out of my mind as soon as the fantastic smell hit me. Woodsy, earthy, and carrying a hint of fall. To my friends and kooky neighbors, I wish you all a Happy September first!