The HOA Blues

I live in development hell. We moved here thirteen years ago to get away from the noise of the city. It was a brand new house and we got to spec the materials.

We like the house. Except for the closet like laundry room and a couple of ceilings that are too high, the layout flows nicely and gives us space and light.

I liked to fuck around in the yard before moving here. At the time we were considering the purchase, I was told that the Home Owners Association rules wouldn’t impinge on me at all, that I could garden to my heart’s content.

Well, except for the ban on composting. That is not allowed. Oh, and, your yard will be sprayed with herbicides, insecticides and fertilized until algae blooms all over the spring fed ponds. And then, we’ll deal with that by putting electric-run fountains into those ponds and charging people for that electric use.
No, you can’t get rid of your lawn and no, you can’t have any fences unless they are invisible. And the trees and shrubs you’ve planted will be pruned by teen aged boys with power tools into shapes not usually seen in nature.

So, I sigh and make beds to replace the lawn. I repeatedly request no pruning and no spraying in my yard. After the third time of them ignoring my requests and pruning trees against my wishes, I had to threaten to sue them to get them to comply. You live, you learn.
Building the bird room on the North side of the house was one of our more brilliant improvements. When frogs showed up at the in ground bath, I was thrilled.

A week ago last Thursday, the lawn care assholes were out, doing their thing, when one of them came to my door. He told me there was an ant and slug problem and a bunch of people in the area were going to put something down to get rid of the problem. Actually, the first thing that occurred to me… the people that live here know the difference between an ant and a slug? Not real connected to nature here. But…

News to me. I’m outside every day, tending to plants and animals, and I haven’t seen any evidence of a problem.

So, I ask, exactly what is it that you are going to apply? Merit, he replies, and because so many people are doing it, we can offer you a half price deal. I stand there for a moment, slack jawed with wonder that so many people want to kill so many things.

I’ll pass, I say.

By Saturday, when I’ve got a moment to do a search, all I can remember is that it starts with an “M”. So, Mesurol pops up and freaks me right out.

Mesurol is listed as toxic to mammals, birds, bees, pretty much everything. It’s bad, bad shit.

So, I go a little nuts, fire off an email to our HOA business manager (who is the only person I ever hear from). But I do keep searching and finally find Merit. Ok, Merit isn’t nearly as toxic as Mesurol, but it’s not exactly benign either. In the searching I did do, I found many less toxic methods to deal with ants or slugs without killing everything else and tainting water.

A quick word about water… in develhell, we have many spring fed ponds and a high water table. The watershed to which we belong is being tainted with fertilizers and insecticides along with our ponds. Why doesn’t any municipality around here care about that? Absolutely amazing how stupid people are about something so incredibly important to all life on earth.

So, I fire off another note, addressing my mistake and asking what process is in place to alert residents to a problem/solution/risks involved. New people with small children that play on the grass are in the area now, and one wonders when and/or if they will raise any red flags about what their children are playing in. The business manager sends me a note back, saying that she’s forwarded my two notes to the HOA. That was on Monday.

On Friday, I saw the first toad. I also hadn’t heard anything from the HOA. But the lawn care assholes were out, spreading something that reeked.

A couple of years ago, while I was deadheading some rose bushes, I caught something move from the corner of my eye. When I focused, I found a praying mantis on the cloves. While I was watching it, it turned its head and looked at me. We looked at each other.
Praying Mantis2
This is magic. This is the stuff of life.

Until we kill it.

What is a rabid tree hugger doing in develhell? That is a good question. The thing about HOAs that didn’t occur to me thirteen years ago is that they exist to prevent change. They exist to repress any signs of life. I’ve got a couple of relatively new neighbors, and it was fun there for a minute when they put the (illegal) basketball hoop on their driveway…….a couple of teens need to burn off energy and they were out at night, playing. After the lawn care assholes came through and (ohmygod) had to mow around it…..well, goodbye basketball hoop. Which makes me wonder how long the hammock in the back yard will last. So, we don’t have laundry drying in the summer breeze, we have huge stretches of useless lawn, it has now dawned on me that this development (and it IS a development as opposed to neighborhood, for sure) basically exists for the ease of lawn care maintenance. Fuck the people here…’s all about lawns.

Yet, I didn’t quite grasp that thirteen years ago. Are you the same person you were thirteen years ago?

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4 Responses to The HOA Blues

  1. SprinklinThoughts says:

    Basically, I’d say I’m pretty much the same person as 13 years ago… but my tendency to compromise (as in things like you write about) has gone from “maybe” to “uh, not if I have any say so”.

  2. Chris says:

    I just saw two toads on my deck

Thanks for reading!

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