Briefly Monday

Does my yard look like a catbox? Maybe

We just had another encounter with our next-door neighbor. I say “encounter” because we never officially became friends when this retired professor and his wife moved in a year or so back, because I don’t know how to make Welcome Cookies. In the South, you’re not friends with your neighbors unless you’ve made the ceremonial presentation of Welcome Cookies.

Anyway, you still have to wave hello when you view each other, even when the guy is standing in your yard, holding the leash of his harnessed cat while the cat does its business in your bushes. You read that right — he’s walking his cat on a leash. You also read this part right — the cat is using our shrubbery as a catbox.

The man’s manner is casual, even warm, as he looks up to meet my eyes. He doesn’t seem at all embarrassed that he’s been caught in what presumably is at least a technical trespass as well as a disgusting breach of neighborly etiquette. Maybe he was a professor of real estate law and he’s aware of some obscure provision that allows tethered cats to do whatever they damn well please while their owner stands by looking innocent. Maybe there’s a covenant in the Brookshadow Homeowners Association bylaws designating my yard as a feline preserve.

Just because we have three cats of our own and a corresponding litter box for each doesn’t make our property some kind of FPZ (free poop zone). I want to be mad at the apparently nutty professor, but he looks so kindly that I can’t manage it. Have  your way with our azalea, harnessed kitty. I just hope one day that you will run free.

Man found lying near road — what to do?

Speaking of social protocols, what is the correct response when you see a human adult male lying on the ground in public? I guess it depends on the context.

If it happens on a sidewalk on the bad side of town or next to a roadway, I imagine you’re supposed to call an emergency response team. If it’s on an athletic field, you probably need to stand over the body and make a variety of taunting noises and gestures. If it’s on a wartime battlefield, you have to bow your head in a show of respect, then run like hell for cover.

In this particular instance, I was taking a lunchtime walk around the industrial park where my office is located. The weather was pleasant, a slight chill in the air and a brilliant blue sky overhead. I came to a cul-du-sac where I saw a pickup truck parked against the curb. A few steps away, lying face up and motionless underneath a small tree, was what appeared to be the driver.

Even though he was unconscious, he was obviously exercising some muscle control over his limbs, at least to the extent that they weren’t splayed in four different directions. His vehicle was not running, the door wasn’t left ajar, and there were no treadmarks on his face. Though he was flat on his back, it seemed likely he was still alive, probably not even injured.

I considered the scene carefully and made a judgment that I would immediately reverse my course and pretend as though I had seen nothing. Had I checked on him by poking at his shoulder with my foot, and it turned out he was simply taking his own lunch break by napping in the cool grass, I would have been mortified. If he were dead, there might be some shoe DNA I would’ve left behind and then I’d be considered a suspect in the slaying. Also quite embarrassing.

I hope I did the right thing.

More beards!

I got some great comments from readers on my recent post on the subject of facial hair called Arguments for the Beard ( ). A lot of respondents said they too had experimented with whisker-growing in their youth, and continued to dabble in scruffiness on weekends and vacations. Others — mostly women — complained that the three-day growth currently in vogue among young men and Hollywood types was difficult to snuggle with, or strongly resembled smears of melted chocolate, or both.

Still, there was a strong consensus in all the correspondence: More beard pictures!

The photograph below is a twenty-something me hiking a nature trail somewhere in the wilds of Florida. My wife likes to call the subject Stick-Wielding Man; if you look closely, you can see the branch that I’m holding. Whenever I’m close to the natural world like that, I feel compelled to pick up a broken segment of tree and carry it with me. Perhaps I’m responding to a primordial sense that I need to protect myself from potential predators. Maybe I’m simply an jerk.

In either case, I remind myself of the spirited Labrador I see being walked through the neighborhood on occasion. He proudly carries a four-foot length of fallen tree in his teeth, shifting it back and forth while exhibiting that goofy dog smile you so often see on retrievers. Both he and I struggle to master the surrounding natural world while at the same time reveling in its beauty, though I typically draw the line at putting the stick in my mouth.

Davis 052


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3 Responses to “Briefly Monday”

  1. planetross Says:

    It’s definitely a “Quest for Fire” moment in that photo. hee hee!

  2. Rocky Humbert Says:

    DavisW: We took our neighbors a tin of home-baked chocolate chip cookies when they first moved in, and we live north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    That said, we never heard from them again … (there were no signs of ambulances or other distress associated with the cookies) … and their is now a For Sale sign in front of the house.

    Good Fences make good neighbors. Not good good cookies.

  3. w Says:

    I can just imagine FPZ signs going up everywhere!

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