Snow business

Benjamin Franklin had the right idea, though he stopped short. Among the certain things in this world, rudeness must surely rank alongside death and taxes.

My property tax bill arrived with evidence of this. Inside, a notice entitled "Winter Storm Information" offered this advice: "Do not put snow on others' property. If you plow your driveway, do not push snow across the street onto neighbor's walk."

Excuse me? Or consider this Boston-area city ordinance, lower on the page: "Do not block pedestrian passage on a sidewalk by placing snow or ice in the way."

Apparently some of us have failed Civics 101, not to mention the rudiments of good manners. Granted, piles of snow can be troublesome. Few of us city dwellers have enough land to make snow removal a cinch. Unless, of course, we just deposit it on a neighbor's lot.

But since when did this become a solution? True, your neighbor's lot might solve one problem, but surely it would set off another. The neighbor might assume that your little snow gift was a hostile act or at least inconsiderate.

"Where else was I supposed to put it?" you might ask rhetorically.

Such uncivil logic, however, is purely one-sided. It moves the problem without removing it.

While this may be a seasonal issue, it doesn't end in April; by autumn, it has merely changed form. If you've ever watched someone use a leaf blower, you've probably seen one of two things: leaves being blown into bags or strewn all over the adjacent (read: neighbor's) lot.

The notion that leaves belong on someone else's property, and that one might actually pay to put them there, is a remarkable leap of imagination. It's one thing for nature to run its course: the wind picks up, a few leaves relocate. But what would possess one to "expedite" the process?

How different is that, really, from dumping trash on a neighbor's lawn? Not very, if you're the recipient. Leaves, like snow, are equal opportunity squatters: They land, indifferent to place or welcome. Squatters may have certain rights - but neighbors have expectations.

• Joan Silverman is a freelance writer.

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