6 ways to make peace with your neighbours

two-muskoka-chairs-across-the-lake-from-a-cottage Photo by Alessandro Cancian/Shutterstock

Have things between you and the neighbours taken a bad turn? OneRepublic was wrong. It’s not too late to apologize.

Shut it down (Part One)
The lake amplifies noise, and we all just have to be okay with that sometimes. Strum your guitar, Uncle Jim! Play Marco Polo, Shrieking Children! Bark your face off, Yappy Poodle Mix! But not constantly, not before sunrise, and not past 10 p.m. every…single… Saturday. If you’re playing music outside, avoid offensive songs. Like “Friday” by Rebecca Black or “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Nobody Even Remembers Those Guys.

Shut it down (Part Two)
“What I love best about the cottage is the spectacular light pollution,” said no one, ever. Bright, blazing bulbs are awesome inside an operating theatre, when a surgeon is repairing your ruptured aorta. But nighttime exterior lights blot out the sky and disrupt nature. Plants and birds want darkness too.

Each one, teach one. Then teach a bunch more
Got renters? They weren’t born knowing that boat wake too close to shore swamps loon nests. You need to tell them how to be good cottagers. Are you a renter? Ask questions. No question is too stupid. Unless it’s “Hey, is it cool if I take a selfie with this black bear?”

Make ’em your friends
You don’t have to share a Cobb salad and go shopping together, or ugly cry through Steel Magnolias. But people who like each other are more tolerant of each other. And less likely to tick each other off.

Talk it Out. Or hug it out. Or swim it out
Sometimes neighbours do odd things, like burn garbage during a fire ban or cut down your trees because the branches are blocking their view. “Hello, bylaw officer?” Actually, no. The first step is almost always a conversation. A lawyer is almost always the last resort.

Team spirit the hell out of this situation
Join your lake association. Bring gluten-free brownies to the meetings and extra folding chairs for the people who forget. If you don’t have a lake association, start one. Or some other group with a clunky acronym that tackles community projects. Wear logoed ball caps; have summer barbecues; drive around in a van solving mysteries. Let the bonding begin.

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