It’s Talking Behind Your Back

Appearances matter. They aren’t all that matters, of course, but they certainly tell us a thing or two and make a statement. We’re taught not to judge by appearance, yet we constantly consult with visual, auditory and olfactory clues to decide our steps and make our choices; we rely upon them. They are the first glance, the first scent or the first sound that reels us in or sends us running.

They clue us in to things. Our senses affect us more than we might realize. After all, we are usually attracted to that which is beautiful, be it people, fragrances, objects, scenery, or what-have-you.

What’s true of beauty in other realms is also true of our homes. The “look” says something, and it matters. Whether we should make assumptions based on appearance or not isn’t the point; the fact is, we do. An outward show is a calling card, be it the care with which we wear our hair and clothes or the color and detail with which we trim the paint on our house, or the way we maintain our lawn. The look of the place tells tales about us.

Now, I’m well aware that the heart of a saint may reside inside that house with peeling paint and hedges in need of sharp sheers and a little muscle. A retiree or someone with a disability may be without the strength or ability to keep things up as they’d like, or the single mom with kids and work and bills and errands to run may find that things get out of control now and again, sometimes even for long periods of time. That’s where we can be neighborly neighbors and help out. In the process, we’ll not only be helping them, but we’ll be doing ourselves and the neighborhood a service as well.

So what is Lake Park saying by its appearance? Is the town an advertisement for small town charm? Is it laying out the welcome mat? Are potential home and business owners drawn to the area and doing a double take of admiration as they go down the streets where we live, or do they cringe, turn their heads and drive on to prettier vistas? Is our town thriving or declining, alluring or disappointing?

What is your role?

What role are you playing in the overall feel of Lake Park? Step back and take a look at your place with objective eyes. Walk across the street and check out the view from the other side of the block or from the back yard. Sometimes we mindlessly come and go, never even noticing the impact we have on the rest of the neighborhood from their vantage point. Are you personally adding to the value of the block? Have you considered what you’re saying to your neighbors by the care (or lack thereof) you give your home?

Those within eyeshot of the unkempt homes among us find it hard to get past the barren and dreary or the cluttered and scraggly landscapes. Whatever the reason for the unkempt exteriors, an eyesore is an eyesore, is an eyesore. They are just painful to look at, even disheartening, and they lower our property values and can lead to all kinds of trouble.

Your home is talking!

Your home and yard are talking about you behind your back. What are they saying to those who pass by? Do they whisper sweet nothings to the world on the other side of our doorstep or is your place like an old grouch shouting obscenities at all who come anywhere near?

Sure, we can be busy, and for many, times are tough, but I have found that it doesn’t require any cash to walk out the door and pull some weeds, trim the hedges, rake up leaves or pull dead branches from the palms.

A few minutes invested here and there to keep the mess at bay would be huge a start for some of us. Summer is notorious for encouraging lawns and gardens to run wild, and we are competing with an abundant growing season, so it’s imperative that we keep up. It may be a tough contest to win, but we can give it a run for its money. The great thing is that the prize for a job well done is enjoyed by everyone who passes by, not just us. It’s a gift to our neighborhood when we take pride in our homes. We owe it to our town and our neighbors to do our part and make the street where we live as beautiful as possible.

We can say that looks are only skin deep, but I’ve noticed that the look of the CRA district of Park Avenue seems to be the selling point our town goes back to time and again to tell us they’re “doing something”. Someone is relying on the orderly and well maintained plantings to catch an eye and announce that this place is on the uptick and is a worthy destination. They count on it. What about the rest of the town? Are our homes orderly and well-maintained? Are we causing sneers and rolling eyes or smiles of appreciation and an invitation to stay awhile?

You can be somebody’s sigh of relief

I have some neighbors who care well for their property, and I am forever grateful for the little piece of heaven they give me to look at each day. It’s like a sigh of relief at the end of a dreary day to come home and know I have that paradise view outside my window. We each have the opportunity to be somebody else’s sigh of relief and their inspiration rather than the cause of discouragement. We may have to make it happen one overgrown bush, one dead branch or one watering day at a time, but we can each do something to make Lake Park a little more beautiful just by taking care of what we have.

A single hard working neighbor can inspire the block and the block in turn can motivate all who pass by. Get out there. Get busy. One yard, one neighborhood, one stretch of the street where we live at a time and we will increase our small town charm by leaps and bounds. Each of us has the opportunity to inspire many. Plant a few flowers, mow the lawn, pull the weeds, paint the house. Lake Park is what we make it.

Then, the next time your home says something about you behind your back, it’ll be singing your praises instead of making snide comments…

…and so will the rest of the neighborhood.