Mine, Yours, and Ours
I may not have seen him but for the fact that I was huddled up against the sitting room window, trying to catch the internet signal for work (we have moved to a kind of black hole where access is concerned).
Today, our neighbors had a… guest.
I had heard him earlier, when I was hanging the laundry out by the apple tree, telling the neighbors how there used to be a path back there somewhere but now it is overgrown.
He went by my window, and cast a shadow on the ground, which is how I noticed that he had something strapped to his back.
In a second I knew where he was headed: our weedy little fence. Admittedly our rented yard, which was neglected by former tenants, hasn’t even any grass. It is a rich sea of dandelions and burdock and looks…well, quite weedy.
On his back was some kind of chemical weed killer and I went rushing outside to find him about to spray along our fence, where I had just planted organic seeds.
“Hello!” I called cheerfully, heart pounding (I dislike confrontations). “Are you spraying something?”
“I am,” he replied in measured tones.
“I’d rather you not spray here. I just planted seeds.”
“Yes, I see that.” (And yet I’m constantly wondering, during our exchange, how he could legally spray on property that isn’t the neighbors’.) He regarded our fence.
“Well, that–” (and he indicated a pretty pink weed growing along our fence and adjacent to the neighbors’ driveway, although not touching their property) — “…is going to spread.”
“I’d rather pull it up than have chemicals sprayed here,” I replied firmly and as cheerfully as I could.
And so forth. Very reluctantly he agreed to leave it to me.
It is the second time this week I’ve seen a local yard being sprayed…but trying to spray your neighbor’s weeds? This has been, for me, a new observation.
My ego was in a fit about boundaries. It isn’t even their yard! And the excuse for destruction is laziness! it exclaimed.
And my heart grew increasingly worried over my little seeds:
I thought of the pervasive Irish rain, and how it would bring the chemicals trickling down from their yard into mine.
There is no boundary, no real protection, when it comes to the poisons we pour on the earth. All creatures are harmed in common.
What is mine?
What is yours?
And really, shouldn’t the question be: what is ours?