Thursday, March 20, 2008



What’s your name?


These dogs are my next door neighbors. They moved in last summer and I don’t know their names. With two dog biscuits in my pockets, I broke through the thick evergreens that separate our properties and visited them this week. Their owners are thirty-somethings who rush in and rush out and spend the weekends away. I wouldn’t recognize them if we met in a convenience store, face to face. Isn’t it strange to have neighbors who are elusive and anti-social? All of my neighbors seem to be self-absorbed and caught up with the inside of their homes and rarely let the sun warm them. Busy, busy. I'm busy, too.

North Carolina is a friendly state and shines with southern hospitality. I like it here since we arrived in 2005. My neighborhood is lovely; however, it's loaded with corporate families who transfer often. In and out. But there is a lady I see occasionally who walks her King Charles Spaniel. She’s about seventy years old and when I see her walk by, she’s always looking up to my house. Pat has an uncanny resemblance to my Mom. She told me stories about her teaching and coaching career and her love of track and field ten times. Every time she tells her story, I listen and smile. Health issues affect her ability to walk without faltering which must be heartbreaking for a former athlete. I admire her love of outdoors. We talk Birds.


Living in communities is all I know. Growing up in a row home just inside the city limits, our neighborhood was active with children who played outdoors outside from sunrise to sunset and the adults really knew each other. Computers, TV, cell phones, and organized sports didn’t steal the life from us or the strength to walk down the street and knock on a door.

During the next few decades of my life, I made life-long friends over the fence. House phone rings - “Wanna meet me at the fence?”, or “Wanna take the dogs for a walk?”, or “Let’s take the kids to the snowball stand.”, or “Put your boots on, let’s shovel some snow.” And, “Let’s pack up for the pool after lunch.” "It's Friday, let's crack open a cold one."

And I’m so happy that my daughter, Gina, had that life… She had a heavy-duty organized sport to tend to but she also made some life-long friends in a real, living, community as she grew. As a matter of fact, Gina and her neighborhood friend, Regina, organized nights of “flashlight tag” with neighborhood kids during the summer they packed their stuff to attend out-of-state colleges. They were 17 and 18. How cool is that?


It sort of pains me to post bird photos with other homes in the background.

We own the tree in this photo. The multitude of birds attracted to my feeders, including pigeons and starlings, perch in my neighbors’ trees and on their decks


and poop all over the pristine properties the owners rarely visit.

So… let them sit in their kitchens and talk about me - the blonde who carries plates, buckets, and cups full of what-not to the bird feeders with a camera around her neck, in all types of weather – every day. They don’t know how much fun I am.


What I do is worth it. Screw the neighbors who don't like cold or hot or wind. I’ll lean on the fence and talk to the birds and my dogs. I’m too social for reclusive people.


Bella found something after dark last night...

First toad of 2008. CHECK!

To all my neighbors out there in the blogosphere, please bear with me? I’ve not been a good neighbor. I’m working nine hours without a lunch break every day lately but it’s temporary. I want to acknowledge new visitors here and read others’ blogs but I’m whipped. It takes all my energy to post here with lots of typos and grammatical errors until things calm down. I’ll be back – hanging over the fence and chatting soon.


Anonymous said...

My mockingbird seems to be developing the same attitude as your has. It's all about him (or her). He sits and waits for me each morning. Some mornings it looks like he's tapping his feet...trying to hurry me along.

Our neighbors are like yours. When we first moved in, we knew all of them. Now, we only know a few and rarely see the others.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I've been missing in action latley too May. I'll wait for you if you wait for me! I'd give my eye teeth to be your next door neighbor.

NCmountainwoman said...

You are indeed a good neighbor and give all of us great pleasure in your writings and pictures, so you owe us no apologies.

Amazing, isn't it? Those of us who are dog lovers know all the dogs in the neighborhood by name. The people we know as "Toby's Mom" or "Peppie's Dad."

RuthieJ said...

Oh Mare, I feel bad for those first 2 doggies with owners too busy to spend much time with them.

I wish I had a neighbor like you who cared about birds and nature (but then again if I did, I probably wouldn't spend as much time with my blogging friends who DO care about birds and nature).

Love the little toad--my dogs are fascinated with toads also.

JeanMac said...

Those poor doggies are probably on their own a lot, Auntie Mary! You should offer to babysit them - anyway, too bad society has changed - we are fortunate that our neighbors are very friendly but we don[t do the "coffee" thing. Do chat lots over fences, though. happy Easter, Mary

KGMom said...

Of all people, you should be the one living in a friendly neighborhood! Well, at least the dogs will talk anytime.
We have lived in our neighborhood almost 30 years--the house is modest, but the neighborhood is great. I know most of my neighbors, and I know ALL the dogs!
The photo of the tree with all those cardinals! Not fair--no wonder we don't have so many; you kept them all in NC.

Carol Michel said...

You have a TOAD! I am so jealous. I love when I get a toad in my garden.

I talk to my neighbors who walk by with their dogs, but there are others neighbors I don't know at all. They might be fun people, who knows? Winters are especially bad, as people drive their cars right into their garages and shut the doors. No hanging over the fence, even if we did do that.

I would love to live next door to you and all those birds.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Nora said...

Hi Mary, I know how busy you must have been over the last few weeks and months...but you still write a wonderful, funny, witty, charming blog and manage to peek and comment at many blogs. You are the best blog neighbour for my blog. Please don't worry, your readers will always be checking in on you and take some time off if you are exhausted. I completely agree with your sentiments on neighbours...and feel exactly the same way.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Oh heck Mary, we don't care about typos or grammer. Just love seeing all the happenings in and around your garden. Your neighbors dogs will be coming to collect treats if you don't watch out. They are beautiful dogs. It sounds like you need to take some time, kick back and have a cold one now. Don't work too hard.

Beth said...

It does feel like a neighborhood doesn't it, reading each others writings and keeping up with what's happening in their lives and yards. I enjoy so much, my evening tea and my visit with the neighborhood--good description and as always beautiful pictures.

Beth said...

Beautiful post! I wish I was your neighbor...we'd talk and talk and talk...

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Mary, I still can't get over the number of cardinals you have.

Your mockingbird is really giving you a look.

I love to chat over the fence with you, my friend! It really is your neighbors loss.

I'll be glad when things settle back down for you.

Susan Gets Native said...

Around here, I am known as "that gal who is all crazy for birds".

thailandchani said...

I'm just glad you are there with that camera around your neck! :)

Anonymous said...

Well the next time that you have an opening in your neighborhood, Mary, put all our names in a hat and the winner gets to be your new neighbor...LOL.....Anybody would be lucky to be your neighbor!

My mockingbird spent about 2 days a month ago trying to bully everyone at the feeders but he finally gave up. Thank goodness.

I checked the hummingbird link that you gave me and there are already sightings where I am but I have yet to see one. How about you?


The Quacks of Life said...

you'd hate me for a neighbour! I say hello to my neighbours but I cant remember there names ! I'm awful on names

its not that I'm unfriendly just we are barely about at the same time.

Jayne said...

I know what you mean Mary. The whole "neighbor" thing seems to be a thing of the past. I have gone out of my way since we've been in this home to reach out and say hello and welcome new neighbors on our street with a gift bag of cake and coffee, but to no avail. None of them make ANY effort to call, come over, or even come out to chat. It's sad really. Everyone is so immersed in their own lives and we all miss out.

I'm also the crazy lady with the seven feeders, four bird houses, and garden clogs who slogs out to make sure the feeders are full. Maybe they see me out there talking to the birds and that scares them away? LOLOL!

Hang in there and do something nice for you this weekend. Hugs to you friend.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

I've found a toad, too--exciting new changes spring brings us.
I'm glad you're confident enough of your enjoyment to waether neighbors' sideways glances.
The "new" lifestyles of the corporate generation befuddles me, too.
My daughter was excited to finally have a new neighbor move into her 2-family apartment house. She's approached them several times with offers of dinner, coffee,....not interested. "Too busy" was the answer. Why are we so wrapped up in jobs and stuff?
How can one be too busy to live?

Bek said...

:) I love your humor! We also only talk to the neighbors on one side. The other side keeps some big dogs without ever playing with them or just spending time with them. On the backside there are townhouses. I've also wondered what people are thinking of me seeing me crouched down to take some pictures all the time..

Sherry at the Zoo said...

I live in the house I grew up in, and the neighborhood has changed dramatically from a neighborhood where the parents all knew one another and the kids all played together (at 3 I was running all over the neighborhood by myself), to a neighborhood where I don't know anyone's names and there are very few children. As the original owners die or go to nursing homes, new owners are coming in and staying behind their closed doors.

I would love to be your neighbor and I would welcome the birds roosting in my trees as they anticipated your treats.

Just brought to mind...wouldn't it be interesting to meet someone in cyberspace, become great friends, only to find out you live a block or two apart? Crazy world we live in.....

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! I hear you about neighbor's. Mind you I am not the social butterfly, and like my privacy, but my neighbors are strange. My next door neighbor is a couple years younger than me and a kindergarten teacher. I thought "finally. Someone my own age that I could hangout on the back deck having a cold new." What a strange - anti-social person she is. I don't care what my neighobr's think of me. I do my own thing and enjoy myself.
I love your pictures. I still cannot get over the number of cardinals in one spot. I'm jealous. Well Mary, time for me to go. I hope you and your family have a very Happy Easter. Lisa

dguzman said...

Oh Mary, bless you! Hope you get more time to yourself soon.

I grew up in a friendly neighborhood, then moved to a neighborhood where we rarely saw anyone outside of their homes. It was weird, but I kinda got used to it. I like our place now, with only one neighbor--he's friendly and often plows our driveway for us. If I lived next door to you, however, I'd have to quit my job to spend more time hanging out with you!

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

I love how write, Mary. So much of your life seems similar to mine. When I was growing up, everybody knew everybody. I don't know any of my neighbors. When I lived in the south, I knew them all. I don't know why. Maybe it's the climate, maybe it's the people, or maybe people are just too darned tired. I love all the pictures you posted.

Chrissie said...

I had not thought of blogging as chatting at the fence, but you are so right! We knew all our neighbours in the street where I grew up! We visited each other houses, we played outside! We ate picnic teas on the grassy circle in the middle of the close. Mothers told other people's children off if they misbehaved! It was fun. See you at your gate very soon :-)

Mel said...

Hi Mary!
Take your time, I'm sure your 'comeback' will be espectacular!
My old neighbours have all moved out and a bunch of unknown non-speaking-to-strangers have moved in :(
I remember my childhood playing volleyball with other families, picnics, movies and parties all together, us kids skateboarding or biking.
You are right about this post and I bet your daughter agrees, you can't replace memories like these!

BTW, I tagged you for a meme about your inner birder, hope you can play it sometime ;)



Cheryl said...

We are isolated where we live and only have two neighbours. I am lucky they are great. We chat over the fence and pass tips on gardening etc.

Mary I would love you as a neighbour. You are fun, and say things how they are. I love people who say it how it is.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about it Mary. I'll bet my neighbors call me that lady that is always running around with that camera, too.
You do have lots of birds down there! Did you get more shots of the thrasher before tending to your girls?
Hope you get some rest this weekend, and do have a HAPPY EASTER!

Naturegirl said...

Mary yours is the first frog of 2008!! I wonder if mine at home have survived the winter.Guess it's too early as they tell me my pond is still under snow!!
Wishing you the sight of golden daffodils in the sunshine on this blessed Easter weekend!
sunkissed NG

Kathie Brown said...

Mary, I guess nowadays we are blogoshere neighbords instead. One benefit? We get to choose our neighbors! I choose you! Hope you get a break soon. Love the toad!

Anonymous said...

Given a choice between friendly neighbors and reclusive neighbors, I'll take the friendly ones everytime. I love waving at the couple across the street, chatting wtih our neighbor about which local guy we're going to buy wood from, and the little boy next door who knocks on our door every weekend morning to play with Gage -- usually before we're up and dressed! They make life more meaningful.

Marvin said...

Ah, Mary, your post brings back such fond memories of suburbia. Actually, our experience was, thankfully, friendlier than you describe. We were out of sync with our neighbors, but by and large they tolerated our unusual behavior, although I don't think the neighborhood ever forgave me for the pickup load of manure tea I (accidentally) made and left steeping in the driveway for a day.

Cathy said...

Oh Mary~

The houses on both sides of us just went on the market. Of course we're a little nervous about what may be coming.

In my dreamiest dreams I could never imagine a 'you' moving in and filling up those homes with your pups, your outer-directed wonderment - your love of life and people and critters.

What a wonderful 'growing-up' you had.

Gawd, if only your neighbors knew what they were missing.

We know.

P.S (When you move next door please bring the birds, fish and toads with you :0)

Mary said...

Maddie, now I have several Mockingbirds so there's a lot of bickering going on. And I still get the stare down from one of them :o)

Angie, keep looking! Hummingbirds have been reported in Eastern NC and Virginia already! No reports in Charlotte yet...

sonia a. mascaro said...

Just dropping by to wishing you and yours a Happy Easter!

I always love seeing your photos and visiting you!

Stacey Olson said...

How sad for your neighbors not to at least know who you are, They are missing out on alot in life, esp, getting to know Pat and tapping into her wealth of knowledge. we can all learn so much from our elders, and they are moreoften than not treated as inconveniences in this day and age unstead of with the honor and respect they deserve..

Peg Silloway said...

But we do have a fence! It's called Mary's View and we all gather to chat over her fence, see her amazing bird photos, and enjoy her dog friends. Where else will we find such a warm and welcoming heart?

We'll all be here when you get your life back, Mary. You're worth waiting for.

Anonymous said...

No worries Mary, we all need breaks once real life gets busy! Love all your bird photos and then the one with your puppy and toad! CHECK . . or more like fave! Also, glad you decided to go over and meet your neighbors!