Thursday, June 21, 2007

Neighborhood Watch

We're not spying on the neighbors. Really, we're not. Maybe it's a performance art project and they want us to watch and wonder. We thought for a while they were auditioning ideas for an M. Night Shyamalan film. Whatever is happening, we can't stop staring and wondering.

It started when the landscapers arrived. They tore up the whole back yard, installed a sprinkler system, planted a border garden, and laid a new sod lawn. It all looked nice and normal. It looked, in fact, like someone was trying a little too hard to be nice and normal. But maybe that's just me.

Before I go any further, I just want to say: I am not Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. I don't sit at home in a wheelchair and watch my neighbors through binoculars. For one thing, I keep the wheelchair in the garage and, also, I don't wear pajamas all day long. So now... to get back to the neighbors...

A few days later, a long yellow extension cord was dragged across this perfect little arcadia and connected to a yellow plastic cage light hung from the low branch of a tree. The light stayed on all night. (I know because it casts interesting shadows on our bedroom ceiling as it pierces the venetian blinds).

Less than a week later, the Havahart trap appeared (you know, one of those cages for trapping small animals). The cage was never baited.

Now, in our neighborhood there are only two animals lurking about who could be contained in such a trap. One is a cat. The idea that they are trying to trap a cat has two basic problems. No well-fed house-kept cat would ever fall for such an obvious ploy. The other problem is: Say you get lucky and manage to trap poor Fluffy from next door? What are you going to do then?

The other candidate for trapping would be a raccoon. I can't even entertain this thought since the raccoons in our street are way too fat to climb fences, plus there are other far more accessible trashcans available.

Up to this point it all seems fairly straightforward. Obviously, a furry little nocturnal somebody was endangering about ten grand's worth of manicured loveliness. This, however, doesn't fully explain what happens next.

This is a multi-generational family. There are the grandparents, the young couple, and the new baby boy. Grandma is from the Old Country (China, I think) and she seems to be driving this.

Every night at sundown, without fail, Grams and Mom are out there with bedsheets and comforters, rugs and tarpaulins and they cover every inch of the lawn. No green is allowed to show through. If a tuft of grass remains visible, they'll cover that with a napkin. They weigh it all down with lawn chairs and plastic lids-- whatever they can find. The lawn, thus, remains protected from the (?!!!) all night until 5 am when the whole thing is disassembled and returned to the house.

This has been going on for weeks.

Eventually, I hope this ritual will become such a part of their lives that they'll forget why they ever started doing it in the first place. Then, maybe they can enjoy the wonderful absurdity of it as much as we do.


jackbear said...

el chupacabra!!!

wassamatta_u said...

Pictures! We want pictures!

The Gillespie Tribe said...

Yes, come one we want pictures! LOL

I wonder if they are related to our neighbors.... they do strange things too, but I can't say that they have tried covering their lawn like that (yet).

Thanks for the laugh!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I thought I was the only one with weird neighbors! Mine aren't quite that bad but we really enjoy watching their antics. We call them the Jones and gave up trying to keep up with them (for all their weird behavior, they keep an obsessively immaculate lawn). We know they watch us sometimes too.... but fortunately we do get along.

Enjoy your view and be thankful you're not watching a brick wall! They might watch you if they had time to do it in between blanket tag!


Anonymous said...

This is SO great. Would that I lived w/such a great movie going on all the time!

PLEASE keep us posted.

Would it spoil it all to actually go ask them what they are doing?


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

We're having problems uploading photos...but we promise that there will be some.

Trekkie Gal said...

Strange....very very strange...

You really do have to ask them why. :)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

1. they aren't chatty

2. we haven't figured a way of politely asking "what on earth are you doing every night?"

colormecynical said...

ooh don't ask--that would spoil the fun. just keep updating so we can keep guessing!

James said...

What I think is happening, because we were told this could be a problem when we put down our sod, is that racoons will tear up sod to get to the grubs that hitch a ride in the sod. People have told me that they have woken to find there entire yard rolled up like carpet. just a guess but that may be whats going on.

Ryan said...

Funny you should mention Rear Window. I got to see it on the BIG SCREEN (the Fremont theater in San Luis, if you want to know) last Tuesday. Wonderful! Amanda's very jealous. *nodding*

You don't suppose the raccoons want to dig up the yard looking for a buried body, do you? =)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I don't think there *are* any raccoons.

Certainly an animal as smart and resourceful as a raccoon wouldn't be deterred by some bedsheets and lawn furniture.

Anonymous said...

Ah... I could not resist adding a comment... Rear Window came to mind immediately... before you said that!

I can't imagine anyone having the time and energy for all that! It's like dusting the top of your refirgerator daily!!! What's with that?

Go for it... ask them!!!


Knit Wit said...

Go ahead and ask! Say that you just happened to notice that they were having to cover their new lawn (make sure to say "having to"; makes it seem less like some sort of wierd ceremony they're participating in). Tell them your parents/Robb's parents/your best friends are planning on having sod put down and you wondered if you should warn them about the necessity to cover the lawn.

Aw, come on! Enquiring minds want to know!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you don't know what is going on! Its so obvious. Your new neighbors are Chinese, they dug up the yard (perhaps overeagerly putting in a tunnel to China, eh?) and they keep putting things on top of the new sod so that light doesnt peek through the cracks and someone from the China end doesnt spot the tunel and drag them back to a communist country. DUH! The cage is to trap anyone from China who does manage to sneak through. My former neighbors did this all the time, so now you have a heads up on their behavior...



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