Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Neighborly Opinions

"Your yard is looking… different," our 86 year-old neighbor, Harold, said surveying our property. 
"...Thanks?" I said. "But without the grass you can't really call it a yard."
"Then what is it?"
"A garden."
"Oh, okay."

After months of killing grass, choosing plants then replanting it, Mr. Wonderful and I had finally finished our garden's turf-less transformation. Now came the hardest part: hearing what the neighbors had to say about it. 

Norma bustled outside wearing large dark sunglasses over her regular eyeglasses.
"It's looking good," she said pointing to my labor of love.
"Thanks, Norma," I beamed.
"So what else are you going to do to it?" My stomach dropped. I felt like a preschool teacher had just told me my kid was less than perfect, that is; if I'd had a kid and he/she'd had a preschool teacher.  
"This is it," I said forcing a smile. "We're finished."
"Well... it looks like a nice yard."
"It's not a yard," Harold corrected her. "It's a 'garden'."
"Oh, okay," she said nodding. 

I heard the white noise of Jerry's weekly rose-food spray stop. I looked up to see him pop up from behind his rose bushes adjusting his San Francisco 49ers baseball cap. 
"Your yard is looking real nice," he said. 
"Thanks, Jerry--"
"It's not a yard," Harold said. "It's a 'garden'."
"Oh, sure." Jerry said but by his tone it sounded more like the neighborhood rose specialist was unsure of calling what we'd just created anything close to a 'garden'.

"Hey, neighbor!" Charles said trotting across the street. "Your yard looks great!"
"It's not a yard," Harold said. "It's a 'garden'."
"Whatever you call it, it looks awesome!" Charles said beaming everyone a 1,000 watt smile. "Is that the French game thing you were talking about?" he said pointing to our Pétanque court.
"Yes," I said fearing for what would come next.
"Well invite us over so we can play on it already!"

In that moment I loved Charles more than ever. But I also loved Jerry, Norma and Harold because although it may not have been what they would have chosen to do, they supported us and our new 'garden'. I hope we can be half the neighbors they are to us when they change their yards--or not--to look like our turf-free one.