Our house borders a pond and a dam that belong to the town we live in. The pond is perfect for canoeing and kayaking, and the dam makes an attractive base for fishing or taking photographs or whatever one does on a dam. It's a beautiful setup and was a big selling feature for us when we bought the house.
While the pond and the dam are town property, the land leading up to said public outlets is not. That's ours. Occasionally, this becomes a point of debate between us and certain neighbors. The words "town access" get bantered about. Yes, we say, the Town can have access, if needed, to maintain the dam. But it's our property. No, they say, it's Town Access. We live here, so that's us. We'll be sending our kids down your way to muck around and possibly get injured while we're not watching them. Then they usually walk away.
Husband likes for me to believe that he has a tough streak, and he may, but if I were to pinpoint its location I'd have to place it in the flibbertygibber region. This is a murky region, from which wildly fluctuating tolerance levels for trespassers originate: friendly neighbor's kids want to take their canoe out? He'll help them carry it. Renters next door bring their barbecue party across the line, beers in hand, to let the kids pick up snails and throw rocks in the pond? Husband will not formally protest or directly address the offenders. But he does a fine job of looking out the window and sputtering obscenities. If it goes on long enough, or if I make moves toward going out the door to put a stop to things, he will eventually spring into action. By "spring into action" I mean he goes outside and shakes everybody's hand, asks the kids their names, and makes small talk about the unseasonable weather or whatnot. Eventually the trespassers go home, no doubt believing that that neighbor guy they met at the park next door was really nice.
The dam is broken at the moment, a situation that Husband brought to the town's attention and which they greatly appreciate him doing. In response, they've asked permission to descend upon our pretty piece of land with heavy equipment and giant bags of material and lots of sweaty workers to fix what is broken. As soon as the first excavator truck showed up, an alarm went off in my head.
"This is going to confuse matters even more," I said to Husband. "People are really going to believe it's town property when they see this mess."
"We have to put a sign up," I said. "I'll get one tomorrow."
I read all of the signs at the hardware store, knowing that Husband would want me to get the kindest one possible. I settled on one that said "Private Property" followed by a short list of unallowable behaviors. As I left the store with my sign and wooden stake, I knew I had just kissed $2.18 goodbye for nothing.
The sign sat in the garage for two days. In the evenings, after the sweaty workers left, strangers pulled up to our yard, traipsed across it, ducked beneath the yellow tape the town had put up to keep people off the broken dam and walked out on it to see what was being done. I guess if they can't comprehend yellow tape, they aren't likely to comply with a sign. But still, dude.
It was another day before Husband relented to putting up the sign. First he had to ask the sweaty workers for their opinions, which were favorable. Wouldn't want the sweaty workers to not approve. Then he asked if we could maybe cross out some of the unallowable behaviors first. Um, no.
After some discussion, we decided that eventually we'll go have a sign specially made that he can live with. Something that gets the point across but won't endanger the chances of anyone liking him. Something like "Private Property - our apologies" or "Private Property - coffee and doughnuts inside". Meanwhile, we will weigh what kind of common sense the renters next door possess as they have complimented Husband for planting the nice row of arborvitae in the park.