Just this evening I was walking through the neighborhood in this fine almost spring-like weather when I stepped on a couple of those “spiky gumballs” and almost tripped.  “Gah!” I yelped out loud in the ear of the person I was talking to on the phone. “Dangit..I stepped on one of those gumball thingies! I hate those , they hurt”.  I squinched my eyes accusingly at the house on whose property the offending gumball lay but my disdainfulness mellowed out very quickly as I remembered the herds of gumballs roaming my front lawn (and sidewalk and driveway). Uncharacteristically, it seemed to me, this house’s lawn was  well manicured; complete with stepping-stones coordinated garden pavers and ungaudy lawn ornaments.  I looked up and down the street at the sidewalk in front of the surrounding houses and see lines and lines of them.  “Hmm…it’s NOT just my yard then” I noted with some glee and continued on home with a peppier step and an “I knew it all along” feeling. I had forgotten gumballs existed outside of my yard….and it’s all because of my neighbors.

Painful suckers!

Nice as they are, if not a little overly chatty (yes, i’ve faked being on the phone before so I could scurry into the house to avoid a long conversation. Don’t judge me) are *The Fitches on my left.  A silver-haired retired dynamic duo who perform yard work like it’s an Olympic sport (or like they’re in orange jumpsuits picking trash up from the side of the road with an armed guard close by). Within days of moving in there was greenery galore with sprouting white and purple whatchamacallit flowers in the freshly mulched soil,  a handmade feeder for the ducks (ugghh….dont get me started on the ducks) and a welcoming wreath on the door. There was also one of those decorative reflective balls set on a column which I don’t particularly care for and rarely see look good anywhere. But here it was, looking good in all it’s purpled, mirrored glory and matching the whatchamacllits round about its base.  One had only to have a seat in the coordinating white wicker rocking chairs and matching table set up on the porch to admire their handy work.  One day while I was pushing through ankle high grass on the side of the house with my little electric lawnmower (I said don’t judge me) I made the awful mistake of glancing into their backyard. Front yard times four. I didn’t see the whole yard however, as the Cherubim with the flaming swords were blocking my view (Gen. 3:24).  These people are serious about their yard.  One time I saw Mr. Fitch amble towards the magnificent magnolia tree in the front yard to pick up a handful of leaves that had the audacity to fall under it onto his thick carpet of the greenest grass you’ve ever seen this side of Ireland. He placed all 6 of them into his plastic food lion bag, tossed them in the trash and ambled back inside.  Bet that was keeping him up all night.

On the other side of my are the reclusive *Polanski’s. Well, they’re not really reclusive they just don’t really talk to us much.  When they first moved in the wife who is Korean brought over  eggrolls. That was about the last we heard of her.  I chatted with her on occassion during the Duck Assault years (remember that feeder in the Fitch’s yard?) when we both wanted to complain about all the havoc that was being wrought by Satan’s minions.  The husband, not Korean, has never spoken. To me anyways.  Perhaps it’s because my boring gumball breeding yard doesn’t compliment their fruit tree laden Shangri-La. They also could be found early Saturday mornings pruning, weeding, sectioning off, staking and basically all of the other stuff I generally don’t like to do. 

My neighbors yards put together generally make my bad look worse.  But today I feel vindicated.  Every single yard I walked past on my way home was overun with gumballs. I walk up my driveway, shake off the sudden disturbing realization that my leafless tree with the 20 or so gumballs still hanging from it looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie, mentally thumb my nose at the neighbors yard and go back inside where I can continue to hibernate from yardwork at least a few more weeks.

*Names have been changed.