Sunday, 12 August 2012

#315: Neighbourhood Watch

Going on holidays?

If you are leaving your house and garden unoccupied for a few days, I hope you have lots of retired neighbours.  The safety of your property will be guaranteed because many eyes, older eyes, will be watching.

Retired people, especially the active ones, can’t help being vigilant.  They are always out and about; they pay attention to changes in their environment and share their observations. Sometimes this intelligence is gleaned from actual interrogation, but often it is just the result of careful surveillance.  I recently tapped into the informal, retiree neighbourhood-watch and have learned that:
  • The owners have moved back into the house on the corner (Good. We all like owner-occupied properties.)
  • The new folks across the street seem to have young children. Bikes have been spotted in the driveway.  (Yeah!  Young families keep neighbourhoods alive.)
  • The Globe & Mail guy is delivering at 4 am now.  (I’m not sure I care, but it is good to know that our 75 year-old insomniac neighbour has the night-time covered.)
Sometimes, though, the observations hit really close to home. John, who lives two doors down, is an active retiree, always working in his yard or jogging around the neighbourhood, and he notices everything.  He knows when you need to cut your grass (and tells you so). He wonders aloud (in a joking manner) if you are ever going to spread the mulch piled up in the driveway.  He’ll say “I think you’ve got a skunk under your barn, now.  He’s been digging in my lawn”.  But I don’t mind that John is so keen-eyed and so pointed in his remarks.  He would know immediately if anything were amiss with our place, and would know what to do about it.

In fact, we intend to have John keep an eye on our house when we are on an upcoming cross-country road trip.  We couldn’t ask for anyone better.  No plants will die on his watch.  He will take house-sitting seriously.  And we are happy to reciprocate.

Now that we are around a bit more during the day, John has been getting us to look after his place when he is at the cottage. It is not much – we do a walk-through, take in the mail and water the garden--and I think we have done a good job, almost up to his standard.  Except for the skunk.  I know John would like us to trap and relocate it (we do possess a live trap). But our good-neighbourliness has its limits.  

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