Maybe God wishes to teach me a thousand new things, move me from being in a thousand different directions to just ONE, and show me a thousand reasons to BLESS his name. Maybe that is why He moved me 1,000 miles away.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The next day, we met Art.

behind our house there are the most beautiful woods...the kind of woods that hold mystery, adventure -- these woods look as if they yearn for imaginative children to play in them. Now my family moves into a home which was previously lived in by a senior couple who never set foot in the woods beyond their yard. Of course, my three kids could do nothing else but play there. They enjoyed exploring the brown, quiet forest all winter. They pulled up green shoots which turned out to be wild onions in the spring, and gathered strange nuts and made piles for the squirrels (those that weren't used in their pine tree fort for "soups" and such.) One warm spring afternoon my kids were enjoying a romp outside after having a picnic lunch. Jackson came running in the house to tell me the owner of the woods was out working on his land and I should go talk to him. I then heard the story of how Art came roaring on his four wheel ATV at them and hollered, "Get off my land! Get off my land or I'll call the police! If I ever catch you here again I'll have you arrested!" Poor Audrey, who was clinging in fear to Daisy's neck for safety feebly asked Jackson, "Are we going to jail?"

I decided it was time for me to meet Art. He wouldn't look my direction when I approached him in his woods. He kept his face away and kept at his work sawing limbs off a small fallen tree that had landed in a neighbor's yard. Even after introducing myself as the homeowner and mother of the trespassers, he didn't look at me. He was reasonable, but quite cantankerous, as he told me he didn't want a law suit from a kid getting hurt on his land. I tried to talk to him, tell him what my kids were doing there, and attempted to have friendly conversation. I found out that this guy was alone, managing these acres by himself for the most part. He has had trespassers bothering things on his land and he also had a neighbor complain about a broken down shed he has on his property; they had called the city to force Art to tear it down. "It's been there for a lot of years and these people move in and tell me I have to tear down something on my own property", Art spewed. I agreed with his position on that matter, and told him I had no intention of suing him, and assured him that I'd have my kids respect the land boundary lines. "I wouldn't mind em playing, but I don't want to get sued" he kept saying. I told him my kids never messed around, they just ventured in a few yards. I think he wanted to change his mind...I didn't see it in his eyes as they never looked my way during our 10 minute exchange, but it seemed as if he wanted to soften a little, but maybe didn't remember how to.

It interested me how completely different Art and Steve were. Steve, the man who struck up a conversation over dinner at McDonalds was also a widower, lived alone, but he talked about his family who lived close by-- grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He looked by the way he dressed to be fairly well to do, and Art was the opposite. Art had a tree fall on his house destroying it completely a few years earlier. It actually is still there at the side of the road down the hill, three walls and the foundation still standing. From what I can guess, Art has had a few knocks against him besides the tree.

So, the kids ended up having an important lesson to learn about kindness: we should show kindness to people like Art, not just the Steves. We should respect with a good attitude the wishes of Art, even though those beautiful woods are so inviting. We should make every effort to be friendly and take the time to talk to elderly people when the opportunity arises, many of them are alone. The kids are a bit scared of Art, and I don't blame them. However, when I'm in the yard and he drives by on his ATV, we hope that we will have a fresh batch of cookies we can bring out to him.

The other day, Jackson said, "Mom, maybe if we are nice he will leave us his land as an inheritance!" So, I'm not sure that they all really get yet the lesson I was trying to teach them, but I'll keep trying.


Skittles said...

That's a great story! keep em comin!

deb said...

Yeah, I think some homemade cookies are just what Art needs. Neighbors are always interesting. At least this one is fully clothed! :)

Skittles said...

WHAT???????!!!!!!! mom do you know something that i don't??

Anonymous said...

Well you think your neighbor is bad. our first trial run was a group who got kicked out becasue of partys, the next was kicked out becasue they don't pay rent and the police were looking into them, and now we're just relieved to see the blinds open and the garbage can out on Friday!

Kerri said...

Maria, the house isn't empty anymore? Hope this group is a lot better than the last few!

Jessica said...

oh kerri! I love this favorite line is "it seemed as if he wanted to soften a little, but maybe didn't remember how to." That, and of course Jackson's completely selfless optimism.

Anonymous said...

Kerri, the new neighbors seem better (they even cut the 4" long grass! all the people on the block are extremely happy that they did :) )

Anonymous said...

soooooooooooooo, antie whats with the unclothed neighbor?