Saturday, July 10, 2010

Good Hedges/Good Neighbors

When we moved into our house, nearly 20 years ago, we immediately fell in love with the quiet neighborhood and the many lovely tall trees and bushes.  The latter has been a mixed blessing as the trees and bushes all require lots of care.  Leaving an elm hedge go for a season means doing battle with an elm fortress the next season.  Elms also have a nasty tendency towards disease.  Dying elms are not beautiful to look at nor is it healthy to keep them around.  Some of those nasty diseases spread to the other elms in the yard and the neighborhood.  
I've been battling our elms this summer. I'm determined to take out the elms and let the lovely honeysuckle, lilac, and chokecherry bushes take over.  At the moment, it's so crowded you can hardly tell what's what.  Now, when I'm lucky, I have about two hours in the morning when I can do this work, so it's proceeding very slowly.  I started on our south side where some of the bushes were completely dead.  
I thought I was doing a good thing until our neighbor informed me that they did not want me to take down any of the bushes by their property.  They like their privacy and, if I decided to take the bushes out, could I let them know?  They would immediately go out and buy 8' tall trees to replace the bushes.  They like their privacy.  I explained that the bushes were dying, many of them were dead already, and that we had decided to take out all the elm bushes.  
She told me I would be sorry if I did because it would be so open.  "Just watch.  You'll get a lot more visitors if you do that."
She said it as though having visitors was something to be avoided at all costs.  I looked at her, puzzled, and told her that I would like that very much.  Privacy is one thing.  I was feeling claustrophobic.  I can't imagine purposely closing myself in, and other people out of my life. I realize that our neighbor has some significant health challenges which explain her reclusiveness.  I am trying to be understanding.
For me, my health challenges have made me much more aware of how dependent I am on having others around me, both for my physical health and for my emotional health.  I go to the other extreme and try to make sure people feel welcome to stop by any time.  Open up the doors and the windows!  Come work in the studio for awhile!
If cutting down the elm hedges bring in more visitors, then by all means, cut them down - cut them all down!  

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