Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.13.05
Stanstead, Quebec


Save 'our' field

There's a "For Sale" sign on the empty lot kitty-corner to the back of our yard. I'm thinking of stealing it. The sign, that is, not the lot.

I already think of it as "our" back field, even though technically it's owned by someone in Sherbrooke or Coaticook. Every few weeks during the summer, the owner sends around someone to mow the grass and keep down the weeds.

We like to tell ourselves he does this for our sake.

The double-lot has been our soccer field, our baseball field, our soccer-baseball field, our romping space and our driving range (9-iron only).

It's the dark place where the little kids can run with sparklers and glo-sticks and still feel safe and close.

It's the place where out of nowhere every summer pop those brilliant orange flowers, which we call "paintbrush flowers." Other times, you can walk through in your bare feet and stir up the scent of wild thyme.

It's been home to a bocce court and horseshoe pit. The latter resulted in a rectangle of trampled, gouged earth and the only time the lawn guy ever complained, not because of the mangled soil but because of a leftover broken beer bottle, probably hit by an errant horseshoe. I blame the kids. For the errant horseshoe, that is, not the beer.

We've surreptitiously dragged our lawn clippings, broken branches and weeds across the field and dumped them in the tall grass at the back edge. We've helped ourselves to those branches come bonfire time.

In other words, we've made ourselves at home in the field.

The lot has been for sale for as long as we've been in this house, about thirteen years. Up until a few weeks ago, its availability was advertised only by a hand-painted sign with a phone number and the advisory "S'NO DUMPING." I was always comforted by the non-threatening ambiguity of that sign. It might have well read, "For sale, or not. No biggie."

But now there's a bright realtor sign at the road edge. That means the owner has decided it's time to aggressively promote this prime piece of residential property. Potentially, someone might take away our field.

I know my town could use a couple of housing starts to improve its tax base. In fact, our entire economy is based on the concept of continuous growth. We're always being warned that if the economy doesn't grow, there's trouble.

But let's apply the theory of continuous growth to other realities. I want my children to grow, yes. But at some point, they'll have grown enough. If they continues growing indefinitely, eventually they would be so freakishly gigantic that my household would no longer be able to contain or sustain them.

Plus, where would we find proper shoes?

Or say you have a balloon. Blowing air into the balloon helps it grow. This is good and much more fun than a flaccid piece of plastic. But if that balloon keeps growing, eventually what will happen? The balloon pops and all you're left with is a bunch of crying gigantic kids.

Based on these sound arguments, it's clear that the entire growth-based economic theory of western civilization is severely flawed.

Especially in my backyard.

Unfortunately, no matter how sound my economic arguments (I also have theories about how gravity isn't a law but an option and how Jesus really has better things to do than help professional athletes win sporting events), they're not likely to deter anyone from buying the adjacent property.

So I'd just like to state for the record that there is a possibility that the lot in question may be an ancient Indian burial ground. I'm not saying that disturbing the land in any way will definitely unleash horrific otherworldly poltergeists bent on revenge and destruction. I'm just saying it's a possibility.

Also, the prospective buyer should know that I do a lot of gardening in my back yard. Wearing only a bright red Speedo. And there's a lot of bending involved.