Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Next Door

Drizzle early in the day, clouds later and about 10 degrees cooler than yesterday. Cooler was nice, but all together it was lackluster end to hurricane Dennis which, I heard, wasn’t quite the blast it was supposed to be on the Gulf Coast anyway. Just as well for all concerned, I suppose, except that more rain up here would have been better.

A crew of swart young lawnmen came to mow our neighbor’s house this morning, as they do every Tuesday, despite the drought, and despite the fact that our neighbor has been dead for several months. Actually, the house was sold recently by (I assume) his heirs, and now and then I see the new family exploring the place, but no moving truck has come yet.

Except for nodding hello, I spoke to the previous occupant, the late Chuck, only once, during the block party last summer. He was in his 80s, old enough to have grown grandsons come over occasionally to fix things on the outside of the house, or clean the gutters. I didn’t get much of his life story from him that day, nor did I try to. I was pretty sure he was a widower with a number of descendents. Last summer, however, what he wanted to talk about was his computer—he thought e-mail was terrific—and the police/fire scanner he had just bought.

I hope he got some entertainment out of the scanner in his final months. Sometime this winter, Yuriko says she remembers an ambulance parked in front of his house late one night, but I don’t remember that. A couple of months later, another neighbor told me that Chuck had died in a hospital.

Should I have cultivated an acquaintance with Chuck, and asked for his recollections of bygone days? Certainly I would have listened. On the other hand, if he wanted to talk, he would have talked. He might have appreciated not being pestered by a young neighbor. In any case, life and lawn care go on.


At 9:46 PM, Blogger Dan Monroe said...

What is it about neighborhoods? There was an age where you knew every neighbor. You depended on each other. Sometimes for survival, sometimes just for that figurative cup of sugar. But we have become insular (my apologies, Mr. Donne, things have changed). I know my next-door neighbors. But beyond them live strangers. And that is sad commentary to me. On me?

My ancestors called the neighbors by lighting torches and lining the top of the castle with them. Caisteal Folais'n a Theine, dread God. Bring your longsword and let us not rue the day.

I'm not sure I want to go back there. But I wouldn't mind the cup of sugar thing again.


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