Until very recently, I'd thought this was a cut and dried situation. It hadn't occurred to me at all that there was even the possibility that I was being rude.
I share a fence with the neighbours behind me. About 2 years ago, they planted blackberry bushes. Last year, the bushes crept into our side of the fence. Mr K, being allergic to blackberries, was pretty mad and totally ready to cut the bushes off our side of the fence. I convinced him not to because, hey... free berries! And I love berries.
As it turned out, Little Knit loves berries even more than I do and... free berries! So we enjoyed them last year.
This year, we have gotten an absolutely ridiculous amount of berries. Pints upon pints upon pints. We cannot eat them faster than they are going bad and I have several jars of blackberry jam and preserves, not to mention about 2 quarts of berries in a bowl in the fridge and at least half that ripe ready for picking. As far as I am concerned, these are my berries. On the one hand, I recognize that I am enjoying them because my neighbours planted them, but on the other hand, I would not have planted them myself.
There is no question of them being on my side of the fence. If anyone wants to see a picture, I can snap and post one. They are at least 6" and in some cases a foot into my yard. I kept trying to poke the branches back through the fence for the neighbour, but they just keep coming through the fence. It's a double-sided wooden privacy fence.
So that's the background. Here's where I got confused:
I was outside last week picking more berries. My neighbour called through the fence and said
"Hi, the berries are good for eating. Feel free to enjoy them."
I brushed it off as awkward phrasing, but it sounded an awful lot like he was giving me permission
to pick the berries that are on my
side of the fence. I had to keep brushing it off every time I went out to pick the berries, but I was determined not to read too much into it.
Last night, my sister and brother in law came over. They were admiring our backyard and noticed the berries. My brother in law commented on how many we had and asked if they crept over to the neighbour's side. Mr K and I let him know that they were from
the neighbour's side. Then he asked if the neighbours minded
us picking and keeping them.
And then I went
Why should they mind? They are my
berries! My yard = my berries.
And then I went....
My berries? Right? My yard, my berries?
And so I ask...
Should I have asked permission to keep the berries?
Was I rude not to ask?Addendum, as many folks seem more concerned about the legality than the politeness: There is no local bylaw prohibiting me from enjoying the fruit that grows through the fence. Technically, there is one prohibiting my neighbours from planting where they did so the fruit encroaches on my property. I have no intention of complaining, though, as I enjoy the fruit. Blackberry bushes fall into an entirely separate category from trees.