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Water Flows Downhill


I am an anti-social old biddy who lives in idyllic tranquillity on a hill at the foot of Mont St Hilaire.

Monsieur V and his wife, a respectable retired couple, built their house next to mine about twenty years ago. Their property begins downhill from my studio. Monsieur V spends most of his waking hours tirelessly adjusting stones, weeding, mowing, renovating and building in his garden. Madame V seldom leaves the house. It seems that she has a great fear of cats of which there are an over-abundance in the neighbourhood. I have never seen either one of them take a walk.

Until the ice storm of 1998 brought it down, a large weeping willow that stood behind my studio.

It must have absorbed a lot of water because I think it was shortly after its demise that V approached me with his complaint that this property was leaking too much water onto his. He asked that I have a concrete channel built along the border to take the water to the road.

I didn't see how it was my responsibility, there was no water visible, and the cost of such a project was more than I could afford anyway. I declined as politely as I could.

A few years went by. Our relations remained polite but distant.

This year, when the snow melt was followed by a very wet spring, I walked into the studio one morning to find a wall of sand bags placed on my side of “the Border”.

I thought I would wait a week or two to see if “the Wall” would come down of its own accord, when the ground dried out a bit.

It didn't.

Now, all my adult life, I have been a passionate advocate of peace, so I thought I should try practicing what I preach.

First I “opened a diplomatic channel”. I went over to his house and asked him if he would please remove the bags from my property as the ground was drier now. He refused and asked me once again to pay for a viaduct. I did not lose my temper, but just told him I was sorry he was having this trouble.

The next day, I walked down to the municipal town hall and enquired of a clerk what the regulations say about water run-off.

Armed with this by-law, which clearly states that water does indeed tend to flow downhill unaided and life on a mountain can get damp, I came home to find “the Wall” still in place.

My feeling was that it would be better not to wave this paper under his nose in triumph. So I wrote a note to the effect that I was going to plant another weeping willow to replace the fallen tree, plant a thirsty bush and plants along “the Border”, in the hope that this would help his problem. I included this note with the by-law and put the envelope in his mailbox.

The next morning “the Wall” had disappeared.

Life is once more tranquil and the garden outside my studio window looks very nice.


By: Ingrid Style

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