From time to time I take off and go walkabout in my neighborhood, exploring places I wouldn’t normally go. On one of these expeditions I decided to go check out a road that I hadn’t been on for several years. I think my neglect of this area was partly because it’s in an odd location, accessed from an intersection on a sharp curve on a steep hill with no sight distance in any direction from either road, and no shoulders to walk on initially. However, I think the main reason was that it’s not obviously a road, looking more like a driveway, and I just didn’t think to go there. Once on the road, it’s OK for walking, and actually provides some fascinating sights along the way.
The neighborhood is interesting because it’s a mosaic of older houses, probably built in the 1950s through 1970s, and new developments that have sprung up within the past 5 years or so. The older houses all have large lots and range in style from one that practically looks like a fancy country estate to rickety old buildings surrounded by a wasteland of weeds and blackberries. The new houses are crammed close together on small lots, and are all built in the currently popular style of a big rectangular wooden box with a faux-craftsman façade on the part of the front that isn’t occupied by a garage entrance. The feature that all of the houses have in common is way too many vehicles parked in front of them, not surprising I suppose given that this part of the county has no public transportation to speak of.
The real contrast, however, is between the houses that are clearly occupied by hoarders and those occupied by compulsively neat people, at least as regards the exterior of their dwellings. There are a surprising number of outdoor hoarder houses in this neighborhood. These are the houses where the front yard is completely filled with junk vehicles in various states of disrepair, old parts of buildings, rusty bits of ironwork, disintegrating plastic bags full of garbage, old sofas with moss growing on them, and other less vegetation-friendly furniture and appliances. We do have weekly garbage pickup, junkyards, and other disposal and recycling services, so I can’t help wondering why people collect garbage in their yards. I suppose it makes a fashion statement of some kind. Maybe they consider it art, which it could conceivably be if it were picked up on a truck and hauled to a museum so that it could be viewed with a card explaining its deep significance.
The people on the other end of the spectrum must spend all of their time (or someone else’s) grooming their property. There’s always a blanket of freshly trimmed bright green grass with not a leaf or twig in sight to mar its uniformity, a sidewalk of some sort, freshly swept so that there’s not a grain of sand in sight to mar its smoothness, and various shrubs severely pruned into symmetrical cubes or spheres, with not a leaf out of place. Poor plants. The people who spend enormous effort trying to hold back the tendencies of nature and rigorously control the landscape are as incomprehensible to me as the ones who place all of their long-discarded and decaying items on full display. Maybe they’re two ends on a circular spectrum of compulsion.
Somewhere in between these extremes, or off the spectrum, are the people who pimp out their yards with statuary, little ponds or fountains, trimmed-poodle trees, and labor-intensive annual flower beds, or the people who hide behind great walls of overgrown vegetation, needing a machete to get from the street to the front door, wherever it is.
As a person who owns an enormous number of perfumes in different forms, I have to think about how my perfume storage areas relate to the types of landscaping people choose. I don’t display any of my perfumes publicly, so maybe my perfume holding areas don’t even qualify because they’re more like the fenced private back yard that no one but family and good friends ever see. With bottles I’m probably most like the hoarder who keeps everything reasonably neatly piled in a closet, thinking I might use it some day. With samples, I’m like the geek collector who keeps everything neatly cataloged and accessible for perusal at any time. However, for every sample in my organized “library”, there are ten samples junked in disorderly boxes waiting to be tested, so there the junk-collector aesthetic applies.
What sort of perfume-keeper are you? Are you a public hoarder who puts your whole disorderly collection out in plain sight? Are you a groomer who lines your bottles up neatly in a display, maybe in alphabetical order or by size or color of bottle, and dusts them regularly? Do you pimp-out your perfume display with fancy shelves, ornaments, plastic flowers, or other accessories? Do you keep your stash hidden behind closed doors in a neat or disorganized condition? Is it art?
[To avoid implicating anyone in my extended neighborhood, all photos are taken from Wikimedia]