The “For Sale” sign went up across the street. There is talk of divorce.
The information comes from a reliable source…the lawnmower men and women, the ones who landscape.
They are the husbands, wives, moms and dads, single folks, retirees. They come in all shapes and sizes. They have not been out there since the snow-blowing days of winter.
Clad in shorts and T’s, armed with hedge trimmers, weed whackers, leaf blowers and all sorts of noise- making machinery, they take to the yard from April to October.
And they talk. Some would call it gossip; they of course would not .
They are the new neighborhood grapevine. Years ago, the task might have been left to the stay at home moms, the ones who met over coffee, looked after the neighborhood children, or waited at the bus stop. Or maybe it was the grandparents on the front porch, the retirees guarding their backyard.
It also happened over the clothesline. The rope was stretched out over a series of hooks attached to telephone poles, swing sets, trees, etc. Baskets of wet linens, socks, shirts, etc. were fastened by wooden pins from a canvas bag that slid along the line, supported at intervals by wooden props.
It was a process that happened daily and took quite a while. Lively backyard conversations emerged; nothing was off limits. There were not many family secrets withheld.
But it didn’t last; the automatic dryer made an appearance.
And now, at least in my neighborhood, it is up to the landscapers. The car mechanic, the banking lady, the funeral director, the factory worker, the high school principal, the salesman and the engineer…they are all out there.
They keep us connected.
It’s an important job. They do it well.
I don’t know but one of my neighbors.
I know all of their names, we exchange phone numbers, but most of what I know about them comes from my own live-in lawn guy. ☺ Van
Always get stuck talking when I’m out working in the yard – then I never get anything done! I’m lucky to have wonderful neighbors who I’m friends with and we all watch out for each other – and yes, we all know what’s going on and gossip is a part of that, but of course I keep myself well above the fray…lol 🙂
Thanks,Kelly. It’s been kind of a balancing act over the years for me…wanting the social benefit, but valuing the privacy. Sometimes, they got in my face a bit too much. ☺ Van
Oh yes – it can get old, and then I back away as well. I don’t like gossip at all, and there’s a big difference between gossip and just knowing what’s going on with people because you care.
True enough! There was a time when I could walk around the block, and know every family by name, their occupatio, their children’s school teacher,etc. We were mostly a community of transients, lots of job transferees and military folk. We didn’t stay forever, so we didn’t waste time getting to know each other. It was special. 💕
I agree – being part of a community is so important no matter what that community is – doesn’t have to be a neighborhood at all. Look at blogging, for instance, we are all part of a community of people who share the joy of expressing ourselves through writing or art or photos or whatever – we bond over those things and grow to appreciate them from people all over the world! Talk about bringing people together in community! I’m glad I know you 🙂
I have been so amazed here, Kelly. This might be one of the most caring communities I’ve ever experienced. Thank you for being a part of it. So glad to have met you as well. ☺ Van
I agree xo
There was a time…
For the yard work or the neighborhood interaction ? maybe both ??? Thanks, George.
More the neighborhood interaction. It just seemed more personal and meaningful back then. But maybe it’s just me.
No, it’s not just you, George. It was a different world, one I’m not sure we’ll ever really get back. Sad.
I’ve never had neighbors close enough for a landscaping chats. It sounds fun in a way.
We only had one home that was isolated, in the woods. It was lovely, private and just a little bit lonely for me. (I grew up in an area of row homes and shared walls.) We stayed there 7 years, started a family, then moved out of state. We had backyard neighbors once again…it was good for the kids, especially. ❤ Van
We just moved from a keep to yourself neighborhood into one where everyone engages you in conversation…it is nice and yes, there is gossip…but mostly from Bob, who mows everyone’s lawns on the street! 🙂
Lol…we’ve all known “Bob”, even if he only does his own lawn !! Thanks, Switters. ☺
This can be a blessing and a curse…
Oh, Julie. I can give you a perfect example. When my mother was hospitalized and diagnosed, no one used the word “cancer” around her, feeling she was emotionally fragile and couldn’t handle it (that’s another story). The day she got home, a neighbor approached asking “what kind of cancer do you have ?” That, tragically, is how she learned of her illness. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Oh dear. How traumatic for everyone (except maybe the neighbor).
It was rough, especially for my dad, who walked that line with the physicians about how/when to let her know.
I live in a great neighborhood. We all speak, wave, and make an effort to know each other. This was a great glimpse into how our lives have changed. I thought you were going to say that everyone knows what the other is doing from Facebook! LOL! ❤
Nah…FB only shows the shiny side of that coin. Real lives are so much more interesting, dandelions and all !! Thanks, Colleen ❤
We had a neighbour in our building who could tell us everything about everyone. He moved out this year and I really miss my chats with him.
No doubt. It’s an important role that not too many are willing to take up any more. ☺ How nice for someone whose blog is called “Get Off My Lawn” to contribute to this post. Thanks, John
Hahaha. As Bart Simpson would say:”The ironing is delicious.”
Indeed it is.
As I was walking with my friend on Monday, we found ourselves speculating about the houses we passed, “hmm, I haven’t seen that person before, do you think it is his son or a dog sitter?” We had a story for several of the houses we passed and were cracking up by the end of our walk.
Hey Amy, It helps with the exercise walk to not be stopped at every other house to chat..one advantage of anonymity ? The laughter is good for the heart, and the spirit. ❤ Van
It’s good to know some humans out there still actually speak to each other. The lawn keepers et al aren’t texting the news, that’s a good thing, after all! And, the fact that you still care about your neighbors or even know who they are, that’s also pretty good in these days of anonymity and tunnel vision. Poignant post, really like it.
Thanks so much Debby. It might have helped that we moved into a new construction area, and the homes were all built within a few short years.We were all the “new kids on the block”. ☺ Van
That makes a lot of sense. Probably good advice for people seeking to choose a home with good neighbor potential.
You’re so right about that, although I didn’t consider it before we made the purchase. ☺
Important observation – we need our community and sense of connectedness more than we realize. As one of your readers observes, it doesn’t have to be a physical neighborhood – the blogosphere can make a grand substitute – but the human need to be part of something bigger is eternal.
Absolutely,Barbara. Belonging has always mattered. This WP community is special, something we all notice and appreciate. Thanks 💕
When I was a child, Mrs. William’s backyard bordered our backyard and she knew and shared everything about everybody everyday Van! I can’t say much about it though, because all listened… 😉 ❤
Oh Diana, we had one of those Mrs. Williams; she was also a hairdresser who had a salon set up behind her home; everyone used her services. Can you imagine those conversations ?? They called it “Peyton Place”…that dates it a bit. ☺ Van 💕
Haha that’s awesome!
Thanks, Nimi. ☺
I agree, over the years it has changed so much. Where once I knew most of my neighbours, I now know very few. In fact some I never even see. Society has changed and it is a real shame. Even the ‘local gossip’ seems to be no more.
We could forgive a lot of the gossip when we realized that these folks were more like family, and really cared about each other. Thanks, Hugh. ☺
When I move to a new neighborhood, I introduce myself right away. I know all of my neighbors and they know me enough to chat on the sidewalk or wave while driving by. But my favorite neighbor, Sally, died a few years back. When she died, it’s as if the neighborhood grapevine went with her. I miss her.
Most of the folks in my post are actually the men of the neighborhood that keep us posted. It’s a bit of a switch from tradition. ☺
I loved this story Van. It appeals to my sense of nosiness, as I love a bit of gossip! 🙂