What About Those Leaves?

be a minimalist downsize hawaii small living

After two months in Hawaii we decided to stay a little longer. There wasn’t an option to extend our stay in the studio, so we moved 2 miles up the road to Hau’ula. Instead of high-rise, we live in a regular neighborhood. Our cottage is the same size, square-foot wise (small) as the studio, but with a curtain separating the “bedroom” from the living area and a little cubby that houses our kitchen, it feels a little less communal. This is good. Marty works from home, and is strangely particular about background noise and activity. I think people are completely used to seeing life going on during a Zoom meeting and don’t really care if they hear a refrigerator opening, but being able to perform routine household responsibilities without disturbing Marty’s Zoom zen is good for our marriage.

We live in a loosely defined complex that is made up of an old stone church, a studio, a cottage and a house – all on about ¼ acre. We share a covered laundry room and hang our clothes to dry. We are on a corner with fences and neighbors on either side.

One of these neighboring homes houses at least three generations of family. They raise pit bulls and are a friendly bunch. Sometimes the music the kids play vibrates through our bodies and shakes the dishes, but that’s only when the teens are left home alone.

On the other side the neighbors have a huge tree that overhangs our entrance walkway. Even here in Hawaii trees lose leaves and most mornings I sweep up a few. I got the idea that since the leaves came from the neighbors, they’d probably want them back. So I’d sweep the leaves up and toss them over the fence and onto the dirt under the tree from whence they came – when no one was around. One day while sweeping I was also on the phone and not paying attention until I tossed the leaves over, and through a space in the slats of the fence saw a man pause as the leaves fell beside him. Awkward, and made more so because I acted as if I didn’t see him and went inside.

A little later I went outside and saw leaves on the walkway. Not naturally scattered by the wind but in a pile and mixed with dirt. Just like they’d be if you scooped up leaves off the ground and dropped them over a fence.

You understand the cringe level. But certain that it was only right to return the leaves to their owner, I went online. Turns out I was wrong. I can chop off the offending branch if it hangs over my property, but when the leaves drop into my yard, they become my problem.

Dang. After multiple conversations with myself I decided chocolate chip cookies and a tentative venture next door. Neighbor was pleasantly surprised and I was relieved when he introduced himself, and accepted my apology and the cookies. Better to be friends than to be right -- especially when you are wrong. 

 


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