Monday, November 22, 2010

Culture Clash?

I have lived in my current house for over 20 years but am still amazed at the behavior of my Cypriot neighbors, two couples who are long time friends.  The two women are meticulous, out every morning sweeping their driveway, their sidewalk, the street in front of their house and often repeating this during the day. No leaf, no bit of mess is allowed to linger on their pristine ground. Every year they grouse about the leaves falling.  Uh, trees have leaves, and leaves fall every year. It's nature, folks!

For many years, I had an ongoing battle with my immediate neighbor about this habit. She would be out sweeping/raking while I was still in bed, and as I left for work, I would see her pile of sweepings - in front of my house, next to my car wheel.  Sometimes, I would be petty and sweep it all into the middle of the street where the wind could make a decision on where the stuff should go. Other times, I would get a dustpan and brush out and put it in my trashcan. I tried to speak to her about taking the next step after sweeping and finishing the job but she claimed not to understand English.

This behavior was at its worst when it snowed. She and her husband shoveled furiously at the first sign of flakes, and piled the snow up in front of my house. I would come home from work to find a wall of snow that cold not be moved without a lot of bother. It's a wonder my fury didn't melt the snow!

Things changed when my husband moved in. A man in the house seemed to make all the difference. The men spoke and we were now graced with occasion plates of Greek goodies or bowls of figs. But the sweeping didn't change. Finally I spoke to the husband, asking him to explain to his wife that if she went to the trouble of sweeping up leaves in particular, please deal with her sweepings instead of 'gifting' them to me.  Finally...her leaves became her trash or her composte, no longer my responsibility. 


The other day I noticed the other Cypriot couple out dealing with the leaves from their two Japanese maples. Beautiful trees that are a joy to see each year. But now we are going beyond the usual sweep it in front of someone else's house. They bought a leaf blower! Their red leaves were blown in both directions to the houses on either side of theirs. It was still going on as I was going out so I snapped this picture to remember this behavior.  Is this how it goes in Cyprus? It certainly is a twist on the idea of keeping one's side of the street clean. I guess I'll never understand. Do you?

1 comment:

Meggie said...

That sort of behaviour would drive me nuts! You must be some saint, to stand it!
I do love that red leaved tree, though!

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