- 21 Jan 2008
Maybe I'm imagining it, but it seems possible that whereas your neighbours are of mature years, you might be quite a bit younger. Also, it seems to be the case that it's usually just you sitting out there doing your weeding. If either or both assumptions are correct, it might be a case of two possibly-not-very-kind or possibly-not-too-bright people ganging up - possibly inadevertently, let's be generous - on one person on her own who might appear to be a bit vulnerable - eg young, too polite to tell someone older where to go and so on. And when we get on a bit, we tend not to like changes in our familar surroundings. Maybe your being out there feels like an intrusion into a space they're used to having entirely to themselves, or in some other way feels to them like a new situation they're not happy with.
Most of us don't want to be rude to people, but if this situation is really upsetting you - and it seems to be - what you don't want to do is start thinking you just have to put up with it. Don't let them think they can push you around, which is what they seem to be doing at present. What I'd do is not respond to whatever they say to you other than in the most cursory manner. When the next comment comes your way, just grunt, say something short and non-commital - 'yes', 'no', 'maybe', for example, but don't stop what you're doing and engage in conversation. This is you taking charge and refusing to play the game, and they'll almost certainly realise pretty soon that you can stand up for yourself and will not respond to sniping. Then if at some future point they want to engage with you more politely, you can choose whether to enter a conversation or not.
On the other hand, they may just be not very good at small talk and you're mistaking habitual bluntness for rudeness.
You could also take steps to make a barrier and reduce your visibility: put up trellis and plant climbers, or install a big clump of bamboo or something.