August 23, 2011
On Sunday afternoon Toronto was hit with quite a rain storm, the winds were so powerful that it took down two very large branches of our neighbours tree, affecting our house and the neighbor on our other side. It was quite a mess! The fence was taken out, our 'Rose of Sharon' (seen on the right) was split in half at the main trunk, a number of toys and the mini pool were broken and both yards were scattered with debris.
The players: G (our neighbour to the west), and P (our neighbour to the east) and Tim my peace maker (though he doesn't like to admit it husband)
The back story: A tree belonging to P has been a source of real tension for G and a number of other neighbours since it's grown so large that it's starting to threaten their homes and gardens.
The two branches came down from P's tree, destroying the fence we share with G. I went out to take some photos' (more for Facebook and to show our families than for any insurance plan) and G came out, raging about that three (apparently he thought I was taking pictures so that I could prove the damage in court if necessary. He told me I was welcome to come to his side to take pictures and out of pure curiosity I did. When I got there he again told me his woes of the tree and in his rage demanded that we go immediately to talk to P about having the damage fixed (for those of you who know me personally you will know that I do NOT do conflict well, in fact I would rather run naked through Dundas Square than deal with it). I suggested we wait until the storm was over (in my mind thinking his rage was more powerful than the weather and we needed to wait until people were calm until we went over to handle it). This was met with resistance and I finally figured that it was either let him go alone (thus reigniting the feud) or get Tim to go with him and infuse some calm to the situation. So I went and got Tim. When Tim got outside G started raging about lawyers and suing and how we won't have to pay for any of it, etc. etc. Tim calmly told him that if we wanted any positive results we would need to be calm and friendly, at which point G told him that he should do the talking. Tim was so peaceful and calm, even I was more annoyed than he was, and worried about how we could let the kids outside or the dog for that matter without a fence. I was upset, but Tim remained calm.
When Tim approached P he tried to talk to her calmly but her initial response was 'it's not my legal responsibility' which is a clear sign that this is a long standing argument among neighbours. Tim put his hands up, saying that he didn't know about law and bi-laws but that he thought she would want to know at which point she backed down and said that she would come and help clean up because she was a good neighbour.
Before long he had all three (G, P & S) working in the backyard with him, picking up all the branches, cutting the large branches, and mending the fence. We were chatting, talking about the intensity of the storm and other normal things. In the end it took roughly an hour to get the backyards to rights again, no money, no lawyers and dare I say a few smiles all around. G is interested in coming to church, and P & S left feeling less like victims of angry neighbours and more like good and helpful people. The storm had taken the heat and humidity and brought a beautiful fresh cool breeze.
The whole situation was positive but also a real lesson on the storms of life, and how it sometimes takes a storm and damage to gain fresh perspective and outlook. What could have been a real battle of wills turned into a fun hour of getting to know the neighbours.