We all see things differently.
We own a beautiful parcel of land in Columbia County NY. The twenty five acres include a gorgeous pond right near the public road. It also has twenty four acres of uncleared forest with hills and streams, and about an acre of cleared land for a potential home. The acreage abuts state forest so it is pretty safe from future development. There are often deer prancing through the area, and sign of black bear. Other wildlife includes turkeys, rabbit, snakes, frogs and the typical squirrels and chipmunks. And finally, the property also comes with a cantankerous home owner across the street from the pond.
This neighbor has never been welcoming. We met him one of the first times were were at the property, and he basically came out and grumbled, “What are you doing here?” and when we told him we were the new land owners, he just turned around and went back into his house without another word.
He has since called the police or town on us several times. The first time, we were building a platform to cross a washed out area near the pond. He called the building inspector who told us we should remove it until we called the DEP to make sure we weren’t building something too close to the pond. Well, we took it apart immediately but found out since there was absolutely nothing wrong with our movable platform.
Another time, we believe he was the one who called the state troopers to check out the “suspicious” vehicle on our property. The suspicious vehicle of course was ours since we were snowshoeing across our own land that day. We had to prove the property was ours.
When we hired a company to put in a driveway, the neighbor was over there telling them they were being too noisy. It’s hard to use a backhoe quietly so that was a bit of a concern to the company.
And then there was yesterday. We were enjoying a day at the property, cutting up a fallen tree for firewood, having a nice lunch in the woods with a different neighbor’s dogs, and putting up some no trespassing signs. When we first purchased the property, our attorney suggested we put up some signs along the pond because it was right near the public road, and we would be responsible if anyone trespassed and got hurt. So at the time, I ordered a custom sign with a picture of a swimmer and an X through it. The sign said no swimming. We placed it at the edge of the pond on one of our trees.
We noticed recently that that sign and a few others had been removed. So we brought some standard yellow no trespassing signs with us, and were hammering one into a tree. We took special care not to put it directly across from the neighbor’s house. Instead, it was placed about 50 feet down the road. While the hammer was doing its job, the neighbor came onto his porch, and yelled, “Why are you putting that yellow sign in front of my house?” The answer was, “So no one goes in the pond” and he yelled, “WELL, Thank you VERY MUCH!” and turned around and stomped back into the house.
I thought his reaction was a bit over the top, as usual. But then I started thinking about it from his perspective. From his front porch, he has a view of a beautiful pond, and acres of woods. He can’t see the driveway or cleared house site. And we’ve now introduced something foreign into his view. A yellow sign. A reminder of modern humanity. He evidently doesn’t like that at all. Our neighbor doesn’t like noise or platforms or anything that else that disturbs his enjoyment from the front porch of his home. He probably bought his house years ago so he could live in a quiet, hermit-like existence. Our just being there is disturbing to him.
This doesn’t mean we won’t need the signs in his direct view. But it does mean I’m considering bringing home made cookies the next time we go, and leaving them on his doorstep. Perhaps a nice gesture will help him be a bit more tolerant of those annoying property owners across the street from his house. After all, we all see things differently.