Many ex-pats who maintain their US residence worry about the house they have rented to strangers. We do not. A Nice Family is renting our home. Mr. Nice Family even reports on “my” birds that live in the backyard trees, and had found the peony stakes even before I told him where to locate them in the garage. Plus, really, we have so many neighbors and friends reporting in on the goings on that we would know soon enough if they became a Not-Nice Family.

This is my newest peony bush, planted last spring. Now you see why I worry about the peonies, and why I am tickled that Mr. Nice Family likes to garden.

We worry about other matters.

Adjacent to our house live Heidi and What’s His Name, and their two children. Our dear Neighbor Bob, who had lived in the house next door since 1954, passed away last March, and they moved in at the end of the school year. We met Neighbor Family briefly before we left for Austria. They informed us they plan to raze their circa-1942 Cape Cod next year and build a new house, so we know to be watching for their zoning request.  “Good fences make good neighbors,” was Neighbor Bob’s mantra, and as long as Heidi and What’s His Name do not attempt to encroach on our fenceline with their renovation, we will all be good neighbors.

Ours is a good neighborly fence.

Behind our house is a wooded 2 acre lot on which sits a house one year too young for historic preservation status.  Inhabitants of the wooded area include the usual suspects of rabbits and opossum and bats and woodpeckers and hawks and small ground rodents and an occasional deer, as well as families of Cletus’ nemesis. Nice Family’s dog has gallantly stepped in and patrols the DMZ to make sure the fox know that it’s business as usual while the Foxhound is away.

The owner of the house behind us is an elderly, never married woman whose health is failing, and whose nephew is a developer. Mmm. Hmm. You know what this means. Just this week a Nice Neighbor informed us that the City Council has the property on its agenda for a hearing next week.  We can’t even imagine what that means.

There’s more. We learned last week from another Nice Neighbor that the family whose house is across the street from ours has submitted a zoning variance for a “McMansion,” “Garage Mahal,” or whateverthehell they’re called.  (Full disclosure: we renovated our circa-1942 Cape Cod, but did so sustainably and thoughtfully. No one would accuse us of having constructed a McMansion, so we can be judgmental.)  So, our homework this week has been reviewing the McMansion plans and crafting cogent protestations. 

Yet, with all of these matters to be concerned about there is a happening in our city we are a little sad to not be experiencing in person. Brood II Cicadas are set to emerge in the coming weeks from their 17 year underground hiatus in our area. We moved into the house just after the last Brood II event, but experienced the Brood X emergence in 2004. It was quite something. 
Six weeks of rampant cicada sex on trees, STOP signs, lamp posts, and any and all stationary objects; the crackly sound when they emerged from the ground at night; molts so thick we needed rakes to clean the lawn and landscaping; and the vomit from our dog who gorged on the insects as if on his own personal bacchanal. 

I did not share that last entomological experience with Nice Family.