Friday, May 10, 2013

So the Rumor Goes: The grass is always much longer on the other side of the fence.

Mr. Husband and I maintain a nice lawn here at Casa d' Cookie, East - actually as nice as we can give the condition that the lot was in when we bought the house.

Instead of verdant lawn of velvet, ours is a patchy affair with many types of grass, and enough weeds to fill a garden's encyclopedia.

We are the third owners of the house, so the two previous families consisted of couples who bought young and stayed until very old.  As as things tend to do, the lawn got beyond their reach.

So last fall and this spring we fertilized, weeded and fed what was there in hopes of at least fooling ourselves that we could bring it back on our own. And now that it is May, everything is green, until the heat sets in.

We have also been clearing brush, English Ivy, violets, creeping charlie, plantain and other bothersome residents who have put down roots, everywhere.  The Creeping Charlie is the worse because nothing kills it, so you have to sit in the grass, and unweave it from the grass with your fingers until you find the tap root point then pull it.

In the Baltimore area, English Ivy is the Kudzu of choice.  People planted it as ground cover and it is everywhere.  I understand that sometime in the next couple years nurserymen expect it to be officially designated as an invasive species but the damage caused by the plant is broad and wide.  We have wrestled branches of English Ivy as thick as a child's arm from the bark of the giant elm trees that surround our house. First you sever the ivy at ground level, then you strip as much off as you can after it dies and dries. Nasty stuff.

But we are making progress, when we aren't being questioned.

When we had the roto tiller in the back yard in April, Nosy Nancy behind us, would poke her head through the hedge and ask what we were doing, and then say "You know that the guidelines say you have to have your landscaping approved by 'The Committee'!"  And we patiently point out that our neighbors were fine, it was in a back yard, and we were clearing weeds, not building landscape features.

And every time we came back with mulch, or gypsum, or manure, Nosy Nancy would poke her head through the shrubs to see what we were or were not doing.   When the husband dug the pit for the water garden, Nosy Nancy called "The Committee" on us, and I spoke with the committee and pointed out where water gardens, which hold storm water run off and allow the water to slowly penetrate into the soil instead of washing into the storm water sewers, are exempt from civic associations in Maryland if they aren't proximate to the public right of way.  In fact, Maryland is looking at giving resident tax credits for creating the swails and planting them with native plants.  Everyone wins.

But Nancy was undaunted.  "Well I could fall in that pit," which is 10" deep, "if I were walking in your back yard," she pointed out.

"Yes, you could, but what would you be doing in our back yard?" I asked.

"Well, Marley," her weazened dog, "could jump the fence if he were chasing a squirrel."  Really? The hound is so old it qualifies for social security.  But no, "Really," according to Nancy.

While all this was going on, Nosy Nancy's grass was growing and growing and growing.  In fact, she hasn't cut it yet and is well past the point of being able to stand under its own weight.   On her latest snooping ("Well, what are we planning on doing today?") I asked her how does her garden grow?

"Well, we're getting out mower blade repaired at the hardware and it should be ready any day."  That was two weeks ago.

On Monday she was all aflutter.  "Randy down the street will be cutting our yard once his mower is ready for the season!"

On Wednesday I saw her while walking the dogs and she started in on me and the mulching I had been working on and how the neighborhood association preferred hardwood mulch to pine bark chips, and blah, blah, blah.  I tried to bite my tongue, but "You know Nancy, if you put all this effort into cutting each blade of grass  in your yard by hand with nail scissors, the yard would have been cut by now," slipped out before I could stop myself.  Nancy looked at me with some disbelief.  "You, too?" says she.

Yes. Me too.

Evidently the neighborhood was by now, abuzz as well. I understand that Miriam heard from Missy who told Debbie who's son plays t-ball with Audra who lives next to someone that we'll just refer to as the "Woman in the Cream Colored House" that the "The Committee" stopped by Nancy's house Wednesday evening to have a talk with her about her yard.  Evidently, it is Nosy Nancy who has crossed the line, and the Realtor who listed the side-hall "not to be missed" colonial was getting unflattering comments from potential buyers who were concerned about the house down the street and its "condition."

So action is being taken.  So the rumor goes.

So last night, well into the wee hours we heard the chug of the lawn mower as Nosey Nancy ordered her husband Miles, a Judge, about as he tried valiantly to get her yard cut, and the engine's white noise lulled us into a deep sleep.

The husband reports this morning that the yard is haphazardly cut, so today, if the weather behaves I'll sneak over with our lawn mower and neaten it up for her.

After all, what are neighbors for.


  1. you're going to go into her yard? with your mower?
    cookie, i'm surprised at you.

    1. It all depends on the weather. Besides, she'll be at her job, which is teaching students in a "success academy" (code for expelled and suspended students harboring knives).