Posted by: Calvin | January 27, 2008

The Tale of the Tree Houses and the Mean Nasty Neighbors

For nearly 15 years I have lived in the same house.  One of the things we like about our house is that the back yard abuts a designated nature preserve, which as the name suggests, is to remain untouched.  The preserve usually gives us a great view, privacy, peace and quiet.  A few weekends ago, however after hearing a lot of banging and kids voices coming from the preserve all day, I looked out my kitchen window and saw a face looking back at me from the center of the preserve . . . about 15 feet off the ground!

Many of the neighborhood kids have been using the preserve as their own private playground.  Our neighbor, whose kids are back there often, thinks it is great that the kids have a place to play.  For years we have been trying to explain to her that the area is a designated preserve where endangered gopher tortoises can live and thrive.  We have politely pointed out that the land does not belong to her, it belongs to the neighborhood behind us.  The neighboring community is responsible to make sure the preserve remains untouched and free of exotic plants.  She has been kindly advised that neighborhood’s homeowner association can be fined for her kids activities and that as their parent she may be liable to the HOA for the fine and the cost of the clean up efforts.  She ignored our warnings.  We were clearly not considering the fact that the kids were really enjoying their time back there.

Neither Fisherman nor I were happy about the nuisance they were creating behind our house (yes, not behind their house three doors down).  We reached our limit last Sunday, the day the face looked back me from the trees.  After listening to the pounding and voices all weekend, while the local newspaper front page, above the fold headline read “How Dry is It?”, the kids began lighting firecrackers in the dry preserve.  Not willing to wait until our house burns down before we complain again, Fisherman went to the edge of the preserve and yelled “You have 10 minutes to get out of there before I call the Sheriff!”  They were out in less than 5 minutes.  (Did I mention that Fisherman is a big guy . . . big like used to play football as a lineman for the Florida Gators?)  About 10 minutes later, I took a walk back to see what they had been up to.  I found two large tree houses.  One built about 5 feet off the ground with two rooms, one of which is protected by a locked door of sorts, and the other about 15 – 20 feet off the ground.  The taller tree house had a zip line hanging from it tied to a tall tree about 20 feet away.  Below the zip line was a rusty saw laying on the ground.  By the smaller tree house I found another rusty saw, an ax and board with rusty nails sticking straight up.  The area reeked of urine and trash was shewn about (including and old blanket and aerosol can caps, which made me wonder what they had been up to – – – hhhmmmmm???)


So being the mean, nasty neighbors that we are . . . we enlisted the assistance of “the guy in the white truck” . . . i.e., the dreaded county code enforcement officer.  It worked.  I don’t know what he said to them, but the tree houses are already down.  There is a huge pile, and I mean a HUGE pile of wood and other items stacked in my neighbor’s back yard.  It took them 4 evenings after school and all weekend.  Unfortunately, they used a large ATV to haul the items from the preserve (including a television), which ATV undoubtedly caused greater damage.  Regardless, we hope they are finally finished so the nuisance behind our house is gone and the preserve will eventually go back to its natural state.  Maybe we will once again have the private, peaceful ambiance we enjoyed for so long.  Maybe the gopher tortoises will even come back . . . I won’t count on it!



  1. To me it sounds like a wonderful place for kids to play. Of course, MY definition would include kids going around with things like binoculars and magnifying glasses and cameras and maybe even tape measures.

    Rusty saws? not so much.

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