By Bo Sinnlich
One of the greatest joys of living in a small beach community is the closeness, both in physical proximity and friendship, that I have with my neighbors. At the same time, such closeness can be like a mosquito hovering about your ear as you drift off to sleep.
I love it when I sit on my porch weekend mornings and one of my neighbors is reading a paper, another gardening. Looks like your hibiscus is coming back nicely, or Hey, the Post has a great recipe for scallops today, make me feel part of a family of sorts. If I need two eggs or a bulb planter or a Phillips head screwdriver, I just knock on someones door, or yell yoo hoo.
It feels good to be on the giving end, too. I like having my cat Tigers friends overnight when my neighbors need cat-sitting. I feel less alone when I help plant petunias for my neighbor who will be on the house and garden tour or when I take fresh-baked cookies around the block. And I will never be able to express how comforting it is, as a single person, when people check on me as hurricane winds blow by or ice downs power lines.
Then there are the mornings when the weed whacking and lawn mowing and hammering on the new addition come awfully early for someone who lives to hear birdsong and the breeze through the willow leaves at weeks end. One of my neighbors experiences anothers barking dogs like nails on a chalkboard. I have interrupted romantic moments by yelling, Hey, are you guys there? Wheres your rake? And my cat loves to leave little dusty paw prints all over one neighbors shiny new car. Even strangers comment on our closeness. I heard a British lady say, while walking by, you couldnt have a proper fight with your mate living here, could you?
Currently in my town there have been some conflicts of interest between those who fish on the public pier and those who live near it. There are fisherman who like to use lots of poles and have lots of gear spread about, and there are those who then feel the pier is, as a result, not as available for casual use. There are those who like to have a rowdy good time late into the night while they fish, and there are those who would like to leave their windows open and be able to sleep. I am sure there are lots of valid points of disagreement and probably some not so valid ones. But our town officials are in the difficult position of trying to come up with an answer that will be fair as possible to all a thankless task.
In this day and age, when there is less and less space due to more and more people, we all need to learn some balance between standing up for what we believe in and respecting what is important to others. Living in a close-knit beach community emphasizes the importance of this. Im not always sure where my rights stop and someone elses start. Are you?
I guess the best we can do is stop and notice at times that others do exist in our orbit with different likes and needs, rather than living obliviously.
Though sometimes I just want to run away to an isolated mountain top.
But a good friend tells me when you run from things, they tend to follow you. I imagine thats true. So lately, when I begin to get self-righteous about something, I try to take a few deep breaths and see if I can get in the other partys shoes a bit. I cant manage it all the time: I absolutely cannot enter into the waverunner frame of mind.
But here is my fantasy of a perfect Sunday morning lawn-mower conversation. You know, I would love to have a peaceful morning. Can I talk you into mowing later?
Sorry, I need to get it done, were going sailing.
How about I do it later for you?
But wait, does this mean, if Im really going to be fair, I also need to wash my other neighbors car? Hmmmm, maybe lawn mower noise isnt so bad after all.
Sinnlich whose second Bay Weekly reflection appears this week escapes each day from Washington to reflect in North Beach.
Tour North Beach homes and gardens this weekend. Details in Good Bay Times.