A view of sky and snow from bygone daysThe theme song for my all-time favorite television show, Firefly, was written by the writer/director/producer Joss Whedon and performed on the show by Sunny Rhodes. I just love it--an anthem to the kind of independence and freedom that attracted fans from both ends of the political spectrum:
Take my love, take my land,
Take me where I cannot stand;
I don't care, I'm still free,
You can't take the sky from me!
But those of us who don't have Firefly-class transport ships to tootle around space in, and who've moved to the 'burbs in search of peace and quiet, may be in for a rude surprise.
New neighbors, it seems, absent zoning codes that prohibit them, can build 6.5 foot privacy fences and block what was once a rather nice view.
Now, I've only spoken to this woman once, so I don't much know her; but then, I don't really care to, either. She aimed the arse-end of the fence at me (metal support posts on my side), and put up a cheesy plastic garden shed that shows about three feet above it. We then hired her fence guy (bad decision) to build a Craftsman style short picket fence and gate to open up our side yard (despite our snarkyness, we do try to make the best of things). It looked okay, but was badly designed; we should have insisted on cedar 4x4s instead of boxed in metal posts, and they didn't finish the top, so that the nubs of the posts showed. Our own contractor's fence guy has finished it up so it looks right, but our solution to a problem caused by someone else will end up costing us as much as a space-shuttle toilet seat.
I used to enjoy looking out the window in the breakfast room as I poured my coffee, at the twin-gabled house next door, which bears a passing resemblance to Kelmscott Manor. The air flow between the houses helped to mitigate the heat of a summer afternoon, and kept everyone from broiling. Now, however, it's up to me to construct the view from that same window. There will be no more fairy-tale winter views of the Tudor; instead, we'll see (if it ever does snow again) something entirely different, and it will depend on how well we furnish the side yard. The fence will become the backdrop before which we stage our own tableau.
It's much the same in the back yard, where I'll no longer be able to shoot unobstructed sky shots, like the one that opens this post. There is now a sense of increased privacy that's only enhanced by the newly painted garage, and the promise of uncluttering around the yard. But the trees below are the same ones that appear, covered with snow, in the opening photo.
This doesn't do much to enhance the sense that we belong to any kind of a community around here, stuck as we are now between the isolating fence and the "We Don't Call 911" and Confederate flags on the other side.
On the other hand, the compliments on the house we've received from other local folks walking by have been encouraging, and we've met some interesting new people who stop to chat about their experiences fixing up their old relics. This is, after all, an historic district, and its existence is why we're here in the first place.
After all the work is finished on the house, and the weather has cooled down enough to sit on the front porch (having dutifully sprayed ourselves down with insect repellent), we're looking forward to further community engagements. Perhaps home improvement might make us a little less hermit-like and more neighborly ourselves.