Monday, July 20, 2015

#AccidentalPumpkin's Rules for Public Spaces

I checked my Homeowner's Association regulation handbook. Nowhere does it have a rule against having a gigantic accidental pumpkin growing in your front yard.

It's not a "public space," but it is governed by public rules.

I have gotten reprimand letters in the past for having a 2X4 leaning on my back fence and for having a broken fence after a storm.  (And when I was really sick, for having grass that made the house look like a crack house needed cutting.)

My neighborhood is unabashedly lower-middle class/middle class.  I chose it for four reasons:

---It was in my daughter's school district
---It was affordable
---It is racially diverse
---I am unabashedly lower-middle class/middle class. These are my peeps. I am their peep. 

I love it here.

The pumpkins I actually planted on my back deck have already died due to fungus.  

The #accidentalpumpkin lives on.

I think she is the weebaby progeny of my Halloween pumpkin last year.  

The townhouse right next door is abandoned.  The front yard has been overtaken by a mass of uber-prickly weeds that are far taller than me.

I could cut them down, although the barbs go right through my gloves.

But I choose not to, because the animals like the cover the weeds provide.  The birds and rabbits and squirrels, and who knows what else - they don't think they are weeds; they think they are a playground.  

I am sure the owner has received numerous reprimand letters.  It has made no difference.

Is this a public space?  Last year my Crazy OCD intense neighbor from a few doors down sprayed the weeds with some awful shit toxic chemicals.  I was so pissed off incensed.  The weeds are not even close to her freakin house.  And I don't use that crap toxic chemicals near my half run-down shack abode.  "She just couldn't stand to look at them anymore." Ironically, the weeds came back even stronger after she sprayed.  So we got have to weeds AND chemicals. #thankyou #karma

This accidental pumpkin has grabbed on for dear life to everything it can entwine. 
My yard is the size of a postage stamp.  The accidental pumpkin covers a significant portion.

When I mowed the lawn today, I planned to pick the vine up and trim under it so I didn't get another  letter from the HOA.  But it has grabbed onto the grass all along its length.  So I carefully trimmed around it.

I love this pumpkin.

I thought, "Perhaps I should put a little protective fence around it." 

The kids in my neighborhood like to roll down my hill while shooting Nerf darts at each other.  So maybe they would be more careful if there was a fence or screen.

Then I remembered.  These are kids.  If there is a fence, they will go through it.  If there is a vine, they will ignore it.

And so it has stayed. No fence.

I have never grown a pumpkin before.

I love this pumpkin.  And I am pretty sure it will actually be lots of #accidentalpumpkins.  If not, I have enjoyed watching it invade.

#AccidentalPumpkin's Rules for Public Spaces:

~If there is an exclusionary rule about the public space you want to thrive in, break it.

~Hang on for dear life. 

~Don't build a fence - they would notice.

~Plant seeds even when you don't know you are planting them.

~Exist happily next to the weeds.  They will distract people from worrying about you.

~Get lots of sunshine.


  1. I love your edits :) and your accidental pumpkin and especially your #accidentalpumpkin rules.

    It reminds me of something Fred Mindlin said about weeds being the plant that really want to grow (what he said was much more profound but I don't have it readily at hand)! The "volunteers" in my garden are always the hardiest. I almost always let them grow and am happy about that.

    I wonder about homeowner association rules (never having been subject to any, but being deeply skeptical of the very idea). Are they a good idea? Are they necessary? How do they affect the idea of public spaces and more generally, community health?

    1. HOA rules have the best of intentions. They are a bit of a joke in a neighborhood like mine. We are supposed to have a trash can with our house number on it for trash day, "to prevent raccoons from getting in the trash." I have in 12 years never seen a raccoon here. Most people try their best to keep up with everything, but those people are the ones who get reprimand letters, while the (more than a few) houses which are in complete disrepair continue for years to be in disrepair. This is not a neighborhood where people have extra money. You could have an immaculately kept house and then two doors down an abandoned house. So I don't think we are exactly the poster children for a healthy HOA ecosystem. I think in more economically advantaged neighborhoods, perhaps they are more effective. I do think that they help keep even our neighborhood more aware of expectations for upkeep. It was funny for me to get a reprimand letter about having a 2X4 leaning on my fence, while next door the gutter was falling off the house, the back gate was broken, and all sorts of other issues were so obvious. I got fined once for putting out my trash 30 minutes early ($75 per bag, 2 bags) while there are others who pile crap outside everywhere all the time. Kind of laughable. I am not someone who cares if my neighbor paints his front door bright red.