My old mill in the little Pyrenees village has a line of trees separating it from the farm next door. The other day the neighbor appeared: he must be about seventy years old. Now and again I have seen him working with his wife on the farm and thought it was high time for them to retire and have a rest.
In a very nice manner, the neighbor complained that the leaves from my trees were falling on his roof and that I had to cut them down.
I was most shocked: how could a person who has spent his entire life in contact with nature want me to destroy something that took so long to grow, just because in ten years’ time this could cause a problem to the tiles of his roof?
I invite him in for a coffee. I tell him that I will take the responsibility: if one day these dry leaves (which will be swept away by the wind and by the summer) cause any damage, I shall take it on myself to have a new roof built. The neighbor says that this is of no interest to him: he wants me to cut down the trees. I get a bit irritated and tell him that I prefer to buy his farm.
“My land is not for sale,” he answers.
“But with that money you could buy an excellent house in town and live there with your wife for the rest of your days without having to bear awful winters and lost crops.”
“The farm is not for sale. I was born here and grew up here, and I’m too old to move.”
He suggests that an expert from the town could come out to evaluate the case and decide – in that way, neither of us would have to get annoyed at the other. After all, we are neighbors.
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