Or, how I spent my summer vacation.
Or, since I didn’t have a summer vacation, how I spent my weekend.
We live in a rugged area of the Sandia Mountain foothills, in a bowl that’s surrounded by a distinct continuous crest. You would think we’d have some protection from the wind and weather, but no. We’re well protected from cell signals, though.
The central area of the bowl is fractured by a series of arroyos. Our property backs up to one of these arroyos (with a minor swale in between; we call these Arroyo Major and Arroyo Minor). In the back north corner, the property line slices through the second prong of Arroyo Major. On the back south corner, where the arroyo sides are gentler, the property rises up on the other side to a small but pleasant flat.
When it comes to property lines, there are certain unspoken–and spoken–rules. One does not develop right up to the property line; even with fencing, there should be a buffer zone. That’s a given. In this community, the buffer zones are defined by CCRs that require buildings to be set back a certain amount, fences to be set back a certain amount…improvements to be set back a certain amount. (Also, do not throw your garbage onto someone else’s property, even if you think they won’t see it.)
There’s a reason for all this. For one, in this area we need to make sure we leave access zones in case of fire. But it’s also to keep us out of each others’ faces.
Say, for instance, if the neighbor along the back property line has built a large outbuilding way too close to the property line, and then defined a gravel area that not only goes up to the line, but goes over it.
Dear Neighbor: When you take a leak behind that building, maybe your family can’t see you, but I can.
The outbuilding and the gravel area were established before we moved in. We chose not to make a fuss. The newly surveyed property stakes were in place, and that should have been enough to put Neighbor on notice. And maybe Neighbor has no reason to wander the arroyos and therefore doesn’t expect me to be clambering around back there (tracking, hunting wildflowers, identifying birds), but I do.
So I noticed when a collection of rusty garden wire cages ended up over the line and on its way down into the arroyo.
VERY BAD FORM, NEIGHBOR!
I nudged the trash closer to the defined gravel area–still mostly over the line–and made a phone call to Sister, who also has an interest in this property. “We need to re-stake the line with T-posts and bright yellow post caps.” That, I thought, would make a statement without being too confrontational.
If you want to feel middle-aged, clamber around steep arroyos while hauling T-posts and a post-pounder, ramming the posts into hard adobe ground. That’ll humble you right quick. (And for those of you who are aware of my injured foot…yes, I did this anyway–!)
So we did that thing, having our adventure. Beautiful day, a bit of a breeze, the sun a little too hot, the junipers scenting the air, little birdies fluttering around…
Then we came to the wire trash–which, as it happens, had been shoved back over the line to some small degree. We pondered it. “If we put it back into his graveled area (which is right up to the line even where it’s not actually over), will that be too confrontational?”
And then I wanted to kick myself. As well as kicking Neighbor. Because someone tosses crap onto our property on top of pushing property improvements over the line, and yet it seems awkward to return it to him?
That’s the way it goes, it seems. People who respect others are concerned about such things, and that means such trespasses become more than just looking for ways to remedy it. It becomes a stress of conflicting responses–the offense of being trespassed upon, the stress of finding the right way to deal with it that feels non-confrontational even if Neighbor hardly showed the same concern.
Property lines are definitely your friend. Especially if you PAY ATTENTION TO THEM and I’m talking to YOU, Neighbor!
(Oh, sorry…shouting. Oops.)
Do you have Neighbors like this? And how do you handle them if you do?
In this case, we carefully created the more obvious property line stakes…and then we piled the stuff back over the line, infringing on the defined gravel area as little as possible. Anyone want to take bets on whether it stays put?