Monday, August 15, 2011
Our houses are generally smaller out here. We don't have the room inside our houses to hide every bit of evidence of our daily living - like vegetable gardens, wet laundry, piles of mulch, all the kids' toys, the occasional dead mower or herd of dead cars. Sometimes, folks let it all hang out. We're not always thrilled, but we do believe in minding our own business and letting them mind theirs.
In Michigan this summer, some poor woman was being threatened with jail for building raised garden beds in her front yard and planting vegetables. It's not just against the homeowners association rules, it's against the law. Let me make this clear: In Oak Park, Michigan, it is illegal to plant vegetables in your front yard because....it's unsightly. Growing your own food is considered unsightly.
Suffice it to say that out here we feel differently. We know where our food comes from and like to have it convenient to the house. We save energy by drying our laundry outside in the free fresh air. We keep that old mower for parts. It's better to recycle parts from it than to dump it and buy new. When the easy parts are all stripped, we'll sell the carcass for a few bucks to old John Smith down the way and he'll finish stripping the good parts out of it and then sell the rest of it to the scrap metal place for food money - the man is destitute, but not a beggar.
No one around here is going to be harassed for showing evidence of what it takes to live life.
We hang our towels to dry on the front porch railing. We have giant piles of sand and gravel and mulch visible all the time. You can see our vegetables from the street.
Our neighbor had 9 trucks parked on the other side of his barn next to the road to use for parts.
Another neighbor has two spare mobile homes parked on his place that he uses for parts - and a chicken coop.
Another neighbor has a permanent yard sale set up.
Another neighbor has assorted large machinery parked by the road. His goats climb on it and sleep under it.
Another neighbor collects old bikes and hand plows and uses them to decorate his chain link fence.
Another neighbor's place is in a constant state of construction, with piles of lumber and shingles and debris everywhere - for the last 10 years.
None of that matters to us. We figure it's none of our business.
Some of our neighbors even have homes that look like they came right out of Country Living magazine. But we don't hold it against them. We figure that's none of our business, too.