The first hint a neighbour swap is about to take place often comes as a For Sale sign, present so long as to go unremarked, suddenly disappears. You can bet someone has sold and is about to move; the street should gird itself for the arrival of new occupants.
Whether those new occupants will prove beneficial or a liability to the area should soon become apparent. If they arrive like the Clampetts with their possessions piled to the hydro wires on a conveyance about to cough its last exhaust, be prepared for borrowing and excuses.
The prospect of a new family raises various anxieties, depending upon each person’s point of view.
Parents look for families with well behaved kids with toys of their own, who are not bullies.
Property owners hope the new tenants will be easy to get along with, not complaining pains in the butt; neat and tidy, respectful of their own and others’ property, with a high regard for their community.
Or will their visitors choke the street with vehicles parked willy nilly, coming and going at all hours of the night, car doors banging triggering outdoor dogs into a barking frenzy at 1 a.m.?
By-law control officers, too, question whether the new arrivals will voluntarily comply with building, noise and animal control by-laws without repeated warnings or fines.
For months a For Sale sign giving a home phone number stood in the boulevard before a neighbour who had lived nearby for years. In that time he had installed a chain link fence, trimmed his hedges to a thing of privacy and beauty, levelled his driveway with gravel, and overall enhanced his lot as well as the street generally.
An electrician by trade, once — perhaps five years ago when I quit climbing ladders — he changed a ceiling fluorescent bulb for me.
And late in one of the coldest Decembers I’ve experienced in Thornhill after a vicious wind ripped a strip of roofing from my warehouse, he had climbed up and temporarily strapped the loose roofing in place until the roofer could install new metal roofing a few days later.
Just knowing he was within hailing distance, willing to help in a time of crisis, was a comfort to me.
Then last week when I checked for mail at my gate, I saw the front end of a transport truck with a wind deflector over its cab backed into his driveway. “Professional movers,” I concluded.
That evening when I walked my dogs past his driveway the moving van was gone, along with houseplants that had hung in the front windows, and porch chimes that had tinkled in the lightest breeze. The place appeared lifeless.
On an earlier evening his fifth wheel trailer, door open, had been hitched to his idling pickup. As he took a few steps toward his poodle I heard him gently ask, “Are you coming?” Normally a bundle of energy, the poodle hugged the ground small as he could make himself.
Obviously the poodle felt change was afoot; his house was topsy turvy and he didn’t like it. His body language said, “I won’t go willingly. You’ll have to carry me.” And that’s what happened.
At least one neighbour turnover each year is virtually guaranteed. And about the time that new occupant fits in as comfortably as the previous one, someone else sells and moves out and along comes another newbie.
I can tolerate a lot from neighbours in the way of loud music, comings and goings at all hours, even illegally igniting volleys of fireworks around civic holidays though it petrifies my dogs, and neighbours’ dogs and cats as well. But I draw the line at dogs running loose. They could cause me to fall and suffer a fracture.
Claudette Sandecki keeps an eye on events from her Thornhill home.