The Neighborhood Association had grown up around the neighborhood, rather than with it, which left certain houses, like Kristin's, floating in the middle of a sea of tidy sameness.
That she had not joined the association did not stop them from bringing her little notes - I'm sorry but this tree is not allowed. These plantings, however, are.
I'm sorry but we ask that all gardens go in the BACK of the house.
I'm sorry but clotheslines should not be visible from the road.
The notices continued to stack up until Kristin, in a fit of pique, asked for the Association bylaws. She spent an interesting evening reading them and marking up the notes and then, the next day, she bought two privet hedges.
If she had to use a little push of magic to make them grow quite the way she wanted, well, her house was already called the neighborhood witch's house. She nudged them tall but very stately, patting them as she went in and out every day for a week.
The next week she bought four more and planted them to either side of the first two. The Association did not complain. They were beginning to block the view of unfortunate things like Kristin's panties on the clothesline, after all, and they were well-maintained.
She brought home four more the next week, and six the week after that. The front of her small lot was covered with a line of hedges slightly taller than she was, and she had turned the corner and started planting them down the two borders of her property, against the allowed white picket fence to the east and imitation-wrought-iron fence to the west. Here she went shorter, no taller than the fences, to be polite; her direct neighbors had never given her trouble, panties on the line or no.
The spring weeks passed into summer, and Kristen brought home more hedge plants every week. She had exhausted the closest three nurseries and was now driving well over an hour for each set of eight, twelve, fifteen bushes. A little more magic brushed over the gateway bushes each day, a little more over the fence bushes every couple days, and they grew in far prettier than anyone else's hedges had managed.
It took the Association until mid-July to bother Kristen again. While the privet was pleasant enough, she had not dealt with the garden in the front (they were pretty sure) nor with the giant black walnut in the northeast corner of her property (that they were certain of).
The two delegates walked through her very attractive privet arch to find a wall of hedge in front of them. "Well," one muttered to the other, "at least you can't see the garden now."
They turned left, choosing that way rather than right for no good reason, and navigated around the second privet wall.
Except at the eastern fence, the hedge turned, sending them half the property's length down the side of the yard.
And then they could either turn right or go forward.
And then they could either turn right again or go forward again.
The hedges seemed never-ending. The Association delegates walked around in circles until they reached the clothesline, complete with panties.
"Let's wait here," one suggested. "She'll have to take her panties off the line eventually."
From her third-story window, Kristen watched her uninvited guests. She should probably let them out eventually.
On the other hand, she'd heard that hedge mazes did wonderfully when fertilized with human remains. And she did still have a large portion of the back yard to fill in...