Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 11.21.11
Stanstead, Quebec


You with the dreadlocks! Get out of my compost!

Dear Occupy My Backyard protestors:

For the past two months, I have patiently stood back (or alternatively peeked hesitantly through my bedroom blinds) as you've taken over my back lawn with your protests and encampments. As someone who considers himself to be politically left-leaning and still somewhat bitter for having missed out on the sixties by just that much, I have been sympathetic to your movement and your demands, as vague as they've been.

On some days, I have heard your rallying cry that you are the 32 percent who do not own nice big backyards like my neighbours and I do. At other times, I have heard you chanting, "66 percent ain't cool, where's our freakin' swimming pool?" Then there was the small pocket of protestors holding up signs that read "We are the 99 percent human, the 1 percent werewolf," which is both unclear and somewhat unnerving.

In short, the messages of the OMBY movement have been (to put it generously) diverse, the only indisputable takeaways being your love for statistics and handmade signs.

Even so, I have appreciated your overwhelming sense of discontent at not having a fine, healthy pine tree like the one I get to gaze upon each day, although if you asked my neighbor, he'd tell you that that tree sheds so many needles in his gutters he'd like to see the bloody thing chopped down.

I totally get that you feel marginalized because you have no space of your own to play croquet, though to be honest with you, we pull the set out maybe once a year when the grandparents come. Otherwise it's just something else to trip over and curse at in the garage, so really you're not missing much.

In theory I do sympathize with your conviction that we need to implement a more equitable distribution of cukes from my veggie garden, and if you'd been here three months ago I would have told you, by all means, help yourself to the zucchini.

And, by the way, it may seem glamorous, but the lawn mowing gets pretty old in a hurry.

For all these reasons, I have stood patiently by as your occupation has grown from the original high-minded protestors to the countless individuals who have joined your ranks with no real investment in the OMBY movement but are just looking for a place to hang out, including Barry who usually stands on the corner downtown singing Puccini (although I have to say waking up to "Che gelida manina" has been delightful).

I've graciously granted access to our bathroom at all hours of the day. In fact, quite frankly, I wish more of you had taken advantage of this open invitation.

The dog's constant barking I could have done without, but this is the price we pay for democracy and for me not putting my foot down three years ago when we adopted the stupid animal.

Despite my theoretical support, I am convinced that, due to health and safety concerns, your continued occupation of my backyard is no longer tenable.

For example, bathing in my swimming pool was a workable solution when I was maintaining it daily with chlorine and algaecide. Now that I have closed it for the winter, though, the water has become funkier than Bootsy Collins in a gold tuxedo.

Moreover, there has been increasing damage to the property. The wife is thoroughly ticked about her hollyhocks. And I'm pretty sure you've broken my peonies.

You've permanently scared away my newspaper carrier, I can't back my Isuzu out of the driveway because there's a woman on a blanket selling roach clips and hash pipes, and worst of all, my middle daughter keeps making eyes at some dude in a hemp hat whose name appears to be Hacky.

In short, it's time for you to go.

Now, I realize I don't have the means to forcibly evict you, but starting tomorrow, I will be borrowing my neighbour's leaf blower and doing some "yard work" starting at 5:30 a.m.

Once again, I remain sympathetic to your cause and agree that things must change. Just not in my backyard.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at