A Bad Road Makes Good Neighbors

Actually by local standards, our dirt road is not that bad. It was built by the man who subdivided the land and sold off lots — long before anyone in the neighborhood moved here. We’ve lived here since 2007 and the road held up nicely until last winter when it turned to deep mud and ruts.

I wrote about living with a muddy road in a Jan. 31 post called Stuck in the Mud. A mixture of snow and above-normal temps, plus a couple of propane deliveries and trash pickups changed our normally mild-mannered road into a mess. I parked at the end of the road and hiked in. Here is the post: http://www.joanlivingston.net/home/stuck-in-the-mud/

Fortunately, we had a resourceful person to help us. But as one of our neighbors reasoned wisely, that fix wasn’t going to last.

So this is where the good neighbors come in. Many subdivisions have legal neighborhood associations. We don’t although we do have covenants. We’ve never formed an association because many of the lots, bought for an investment I suppose, are still empty and with construction costs these days, I don’t see that changing. The last house was built shortly after ours.

But the people living in our neighborhood’s seven homes — two were recently bought after being on the market for a while — agreed the road needed care. After all no maintenance except for last year’s emergency repairs have been done in who knows how many years.

So our wise neighbor talked with the man who put in his driveway. Together they walked the road, plus a smaller one leading to two homes. The man, who has an excavating business that puts in roads and driveways, gave an estimate.

That neighbor spoke with others. All agreed to chip in their fair share. Another neighbor kept everyone informed via email. Last week, the neighbors who were home during the day walked the roads with the excavator. They agreed the road needed to be graded and the excavator knew someone close by who could do the work.

Yesterday, the roads got graded. As I harvested the last of the beets and chard in my garden, I watched the machine’s blade give our roads a better shape. Tomorrow truckloads of coarse material will be added. This is good timing since we are expected to get snow later this week.

Was the process as smooth as it sounded? I will admit there was concern by one of the neighbors who discovered when he was buying the house the property line extends a bit onto the road. But we neighbors had a meal together and talked it out. I believe we all came to a good solution on our own.

Over the years, I’ve have had many neighbors. Some I count as friends, like I do Mary and Val who live across from the arroyo that divides our properties. With some I had a cordial but impersonal relationships. Others I wanted to stay clear of for very good reasons.


In the process I’ve gotten to know my neighbors a bit better.

Right now, I am glad I live here.