Beware the chickadee

Sometimes the rules are too particular.

Albert and Marjorie bought a house in a subdivision and perhaps didn’t read the fine print. Their small back yard was shaded, so they made very neat gardening beds in the front yard to grow their organic vegetables. Neighbours complained, citing a subdivision ordinance that front yards must have x-amount of lawn and the rest be ornamentals or plastic covered mounds with reddish bark mulch.

Solution? Albert and Marjorie left many of the vegetables and planted flowers in between them. (If we can have blended families, why not blended gardens?)

I’m not one to suggest breaking laws or public acts of rebellion. Nor to alienating your neighbours.

But. Sometimes it seems that rules are too particular.

How to bend rules

Are you getting complaints about having visible compost boxes? “They draw rats!” Solution? Build a fence so the neighbours can’t see the offending compost box. Make it properly and you won’t have rats. In case mice show up, use traps. If you are squeamish about killing mice caught in a live trap, surreptitiously release the mice in the nearest park or Walmart foyer, with a supply of food, of course, gleaned from discarded snack boxes and a neat, bright plastic non-recyclable little mouse-house, which you can buy in any Walmart.

Not allowed to shoot a gun in town to control those pesky squirrels eating buds, bulbs and your attic? (Hopefully your fence is already up to obstruct the neighbours’ sight lines.) Buy the appropriate-sized live trap and give swimming lessons. Eat the squirrel.

No pigeons allowed in town? First, ask your bylaw officer to eliminate pigeons in parks, overpasses and tall office buildings. Then get pigeons that can barely fly – Modenas or Giant Homers – and keep them in a tiny shed with an outside, covered cage. If the cooing gets too loud, start your gas-powered lawn mower and let it idle. Or just run the weed-eater as if it were a normal Sunday morning.

What if you want to improve your yard’s bird habitat, but you wouldn’t get away with a brush pile? Try a beautiful sculpture made of irregularly-stacked pieces of wood, brick and stone with rock garden plants on it. A plaque with the artist’s name on it should be included along with the suggested retail price. (I’ve found that French, Spanish and Slavic names resound the best in skeptical neighbours’ minds.)

For subdivisions that don’t allow outdoor clotheslines? Don’t wash your clothes for a month and then invite the neighbours for tea in a very neat, very small, poorly ventilated breakfast nook or den.

For general deterrence of neighbours try signs no one could object to. BEWARE THE CHICKADEE. THIS IS MY FATHER’S WORLD. A FOR SALE sign with price $185,000 higher than market value on it.


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