My house, and more importantly my driveway, face to the south. This means that at no time during the day, does my house throw shade onto my driveway or the sidewalk in front of my house. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is.
I live in Colorado, and when it snows, it is incredible. These huge fluffy flakes come down and start to accumulate almost immediately. They create a effortless blanket on my miniature lawn, my postage stamp driveway, and my too small sidewalk (mostly it just functions as a curb to designate the difference between the road and the driveway). It covers everything, elegant and undisturbed.
But, this is where the magic of the south facing house comes in. Because of our altitude and the number of sunny days in suburban Denver, the sun will start to sublimate the snow from the moment it rises. So long as I don’t drive over it or walk through it, the snow is most often gone from my driveway by 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. This includes snowfalls of more than 6 inches in an evening and sunny days where the temperature is below freezing.
It is an incredible gift that I take full advantage of. Often, I have boasted that I have never shoveled my driveway in the 13 years that I have lived here. This may sound crazy to those of you who live on the east coast or in a “snow belt” like I did growing up where the cold weather would pick up moisture from the lake and “dump” huge piles upon your house.
And yet, there are those who are not content to let me hold on to this little bit of magical grace. On the rare occurrence that it is not a sunny day after a large storm, the snow does not disappear and we are left with the white blanket for multiple days. And sometimes, as people walk through the snow, those footprints will turn to ice.
One such occurrence was last week, when it took 5 whole days for the snow on my driveway to melt. During this time period, I patiently waited for the sun to work its magic, but it was too cold and the sun was too often playing peekaboo with the clouds.
It was during this time that I received a letter, presumably from one of my neighbors:
This letter certainly had the desired effect. I dutifully got out my shovel (a yard shovel, because I don’t own a snow shovel, as I am really committed to the bit about the magical sun) and got the icy-snow off of the sidewalk that measures less than two feet across. It took less than 10 minutes.
The issue is that I don’t really know how to feel about this letter.
This neighbor is not being mean. They did not accuse me of trying to make them fall or of targeting them specifically. They were simply asking me to be a “good neighbor.”
But then my brain started doing somersaults when I turned to think about this neighborhood and what it takes to be a “good neighbor.” To be a good neighbor here, you have to do the following:
- Enshrine in HOA bylaws that Black Lives Matter flags are banned but all others are perfectly fine.
- Throw shade at all those who chose to send their kids to the new neighborhood school when the boundaries change.
- Leave dogs outside to bark at one another for hours on end. And then call and complaining about “the other people’s” dogs to anyone who will listen.
- Make it prohibitively hard to update your home by creating a committee of homeowners to review improvement requests that only has a single (unmotivated) member, for months on end.
- Disparage the cars being parked on the street to the point of having them ticketed and removed.
Being a “good neighbor” can mean a lot of things, but it requires that you live in a “neighborhood.”
It requires that you respect the difference among you. It takes an understanding of what might be going on for an individual who, for whatever reason, chooses to not shovel their driveway. It may be that they are physically unable. It may be that they find the numerous trails 100 yards outside of our tiny neighborhood to be far superior to the small sidewalks within it. It may be that they have been having a hard week and would prefer to let inessential things go.
And yet, it may all just be a fiction that I am telling myself in order to get out of contributing in such a small way to others. Why should I make my own issues with the neighborhood into everyone else’s. Perhaps I should just suck it up and shovel the sidewalk.
I’ll let you judge for yourself.
This is what my driveway looked like this morning at 8:29:
This is what it looked like at 2:50 this afternoon:
Why would you want to interrupt this magic?