We might just have feuding families down the road


What are some of the great stories taking place around you? Behind closed doors, near where you live, more or less hidden from view?

Terry and I had been debating what to do with some of the extra vegetables from our garden. Main conversations took place many weeks ago, when the first cucumbers and zucchinis began arriving.

In the end, friends and co-workers have taken care of the above and beyond what we could use harvest. But for a while, we were considering roadside stands at the end of our driveway, honor box setups, and so on.

Honestly, despite our talks, we weren’t thinking seriously about a stand until we passed a house that had veggies-for-sale at the end of their driveway. A brief slowdown and check it out on the way back home that day seemed to reveal we had a better quality and assortment of produce coming out of our garden.

The next day I dropped Terry off, turned the car in a direction that went just a bit further down the road so I could take care of a few things, and I saw a second stand that effectively wrapped up and brought to an end the thoughts of offering vegetables in some fashion from our driveway this year. Because at this spot, the stand offered them up for free.

As I said, we had people asking us about the stuff we had, and very little really went to waste. If it got picked in our garden, it found a home. But not too far away from our house were these two stands. They were out about a quarter-mile from each other, along different parts of the same road, with one on the honor system for purchases and the other just giving stuff away. Curious the difference, but not in any way that would make you think all that much about it.

Several weeks after this happened, we drove by signs announcing a yard sale. Going to be two long days at the house. 7am starts were advertised. Furniture and tools and sporting equipment and clothing and more. Big yard sale with lots of everything. Weather forecast was looking good for their event.

For reasons I’d prefer to forget (and completely unassociated with the yard sale), Terry and I were awake before sunrise on the morning of the great event. In fact, we were awake, showered, in the car and moving along just before 6am. We passed the yard sale house, where some assorted activities were going on ahead of the start of business.

About a quarter-mile later we spotted what appeared to be furniture. In fact, it was furniture. And some sporting equipment. And a few tables upon which clothes had been spread out. Taped to the tables were a signs: Free to good homes.

You may or may not be surprised to find out the yard sale and furniture giveaway houses were the exact same residences as the vegetable stand houses I mentioned earlier. May or may not be surprised to additionally find out that the yard sale house matches up with the vegetables for sale house, and the free items for the taking house matches up with the free vegetables house. And you may also, as did Terry and I, begin checking off some imaginary boxes as you raise an eyebrow in curiosity about the possible existence of a backstory between the occupants of the houses.

Terry and I have a guy. You get the idea, someone we can call and rely on when we have assorted stuff around the house that needs to get done. When you need something repaired or built or the assistance of a jack-of-multiple-trades, you call the guy.

Our guy has become a trusted friend over the past few years. I always make sure I have a couple of cold beers in the fridge, as he will every so often call about stopping just to catch up. (I know… cold beers? Just how reliable and trusted is this specific guy? Well…)

One morning quite soon after we had moved in to our new home, we woke up during the night and discovered we had furnace problems. The temperatures outside were solidly above freezing and it was a Sunday morning. So, it was an emergency, but not a get-here-NOW emergency with a great deal of panic and frantic calls and a willingness to pay large extra fees for an after-hours weekend service visit. We decided to reach out to our guy for advice.

I didn’t want to wake him up at 4:30am, but knew he often had things going on and didn’t want to miss him since we were hoping to have someone over as soon as we could on Monday. I sent a text saying our furnace was out, we didn’t know who to call, and asked if he could call us as soon as was convenient for him with a thought or two.

Within ten minutes I got a reply text asking if we were awake and ready for company. Twenty minutes later I was opening our door for him. He was headed out hunting, didn’t want to be worried about us all morning, and had messaged us back hoping he could stop by right away and still get out to the woods before it had been daylight for too long. The furnace was running by 6am, he told us it still needed to be cleaned and gave us the name and number of who to call for that, and said he was heading for the woods (which he did with a dry sense of humor that we’ve come to appreciate that included asking if we thought we could we would be able to leave him alone for the rest of the day). The cost? He asked if I had ten bucks because he wanted to grab a cup of coffee and a donut.

Yup… 5am on a Sunday morning… addressing a furnace problem… $10. AND he’s a nice guy that does good work. I’m guessing you’re not stunned now as we revisit that comment about my keeping our fridge supplied with some of his favorite beer.

Anyway… we have a guy.

Couple of days ago my phone rang. It was him. His afternoon had freed up and he had been thinking about a project we had been discussing that wasn’t in any way urgent and we had been putting off. Was wondering if he could check a couple of things out. He arrived, some puttering in the yard was done, then chairs were found at the table and a couple of beers appeared. As the conversation revolved around the new and exciting, I happened to mention vegetables and yard sales and furniture at the end of driveways.

He managed to catch himself before spitting a mouthful of beer and began laughing.

Claiming he already knew the answer, he asked about the two houses. He did indeed properly identify them both. Turned out there did just so happen to be a bit of history there, and he entertained me with the details about a land sale agreement that got twisted once a third party and more money became involved. Seems that the free vegetables and furniture for a good home house was quite fond of taking subtle swipes when they could.

Ever wonder what’s happening along the streets and in the houses in the area around where you live? Chances are good, there’s more than a few really good stories. In order to be sure though, instead of looking for gossip and rumors, it always helps to have a guy.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com