Editor’s note: The author is said to live "on a 100-year-old ranch that once was miles from the nearest neighbor but now may be right next door to your new subdivision."
Dear new neighbors,
never met any of you. If I did, I would be perfectly polite.
Probably I’d even think you’re nice folks. But
here’s what I hate about you.
For a hundred years
and more, this was remote ranch country with widely scattered
houses out of sight of one another. All it took to change that was
one land sale: a developer looking to make a buck and some peo-ple
who wanted to live in the country. Within a few days, a new road
was bulldozed, some flat places were scraped out, and your new
houses were hauled in and plopped down. You do realize you have
destroyed the very thing you paid so much for, don’t you?
This isn’t ranch country anymore. Now, it’s a
I hate how you’ve chosen to place your
houses right along the crest of a hill. You have a great view up
there, but have you considered winter’s blizzards?
Summer’s lightning? Have you thought of how you dominate the
landscape? I doubt I’m the only one annoyed, because your
houses are visi-ble for miles in all directions. But I take it
personally. No matter that you’re some distance away, you
peer down into my ranch yard like a peeping Tom.
to think of how much water you’ll be pumping for your newly
laid sod and your non-native trees. I hate to think of all those
septic systems scattered above the water table being filled by
people used to a city sewer system where you flush it and forget
it. How can that many new house-holds not affect our ground water?
And I’m really beginning to hate having to pick up
your trash from the road ditches and unsnag it from the barbed wire
fences. Oh, sure, I know you’re not actually throwing all
that garbage out your car windows. Some of it has obviously blown
down from your houses. Maybe in town no one can track your
carelessness, but out here we know.
Besides the trash, I
hate the other changes you’ve brought to the gravel road that
goes past my place. It used to have little traffic. The county had
to grade it only two or three times a year. But all the big
machinery necessary to make your new driveways and install your new
houses has turned the road into a washboard. And all you new people
with your many trips to town have kept it that way. Now the county
has to have the grader out here every month. It used to be a safe
road, too. Now your cars whip down the center, over hills and
around curves, as if you’ve never heard of loose gravel or
deer or livestock in the road.
While we’re on the
topic of livestock, I’d like you to remember that
you’re the ones who wanted to move to the country. So
don’t complain about the noise and the smell. Fences keep
livestock from wandering onto your manicured lawns, so don’t
tear out sections of fence and then whine about animals in your
I’m still holding out hope that you’ll
keep up the fence on your place, because fences are good things
when you have dogs. You do still have dogs, don’t you? A
ranch neighbor told me he’s given up trying to track down the
owners anymore. "Shoot, shovel, and shut up" is his new motto. Now,
I’m not going to shoot your dog. I don’t even shoot the
coyotes around here. But I’m really starting to hate that
tomcat who is attacking my chickens.
with all the lights? It’s starting to look like a Wal-Mart
park-ing lot over there at night. Why did you move away from town
if you’re afraid of the dark? I’m afraid that pretty
soon all your house lights and porch lights and garage lights and
yard lights will prevent me from being able to see the Milky Way or
blot out the rare displays of the northern lights.
I’m afraid that I’ll never be able to forget
you’re over there, day or night. I’ll never send this
letter to you. What’s the point? You’re here, all
set-tled in and happy with your new homes in what used to be the
country. No doubt more will follow you.
that’s the thing I hate most about you.