It was an interesting conversation with Harold last night. Now, Harold is my neighbor and has been my neighbor for the last 19 or so years. He’s not the kind of neighbor that comes and sits on the porch swing with us or comes over for dinner. He lives a few doors down and we interact occasionally. Usually it’s when he needs to bum a cigarette. Years ago he bought a car from me. Once in a while we stand by the mailboxes and chat about life.
Last night, I was lying on the couch watching television when the doorbell rang. It’s not something I spend a lot of time doing. Historically, it’s something that I did only when I was too ill to do anything else. Lately, I’ve taken to curling up on the couch with Mike and watching shows we both enjoy.
I got up and answered the door. It was Harold, who felt the need to notify me that there was an owl in my yard. I stood in the doorway and listened. Indeed there was, in the tree directly in front of the porch. He was trying to see where it was. I stepped back into the house and got my big flashlight and shined it into the tree until I found the owl. He was high up in the branches, all hunkered down. Occasionally he let out a throaty whooo whoooo.
I called out to Mike and showed it to him. Harold was enthralled by the owl. He also needed to bum a couple of cigarettes. So, after I frightened the owl off by shining the light on him one too many times, we all stepped back into the house. That’s when he made the comment that caught me so off guard.
“So you DO have a television! I was always going to ask you that. I see you outside so much and sitting on the porch and frequently see you at your computer. I never seem to see a TV on in your house.” Yes, Harold, I’ve always had a TV. I just don’t use it very much.
Mike and I both rather chuckled after he left. I looked up the significance of the owl, remembering that I’ve only been visited by owls 3 times in my life. The first time was after my father died and my mother was visiting. The second time I can’t pinpoint what was going on around me but it was several years ago.
And last night, after my fantastic experience at the church service. Mike says it’s good luck. I lean towards the Indian folklore perspectives. Or it could be that it was a random visit for no reason!
Anyway, I’m thankful for the visit from the owl and the interesting insight from Harold. As I start my day, I close the entertainment center doors and focus on the work at hand.
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Signs of spring continue to show themselves. My neighbor Trudy and I spent some time porch sitting last night while the oodles of children ran between our yards playing hide and seek in the dark. Mike’s children, Trudy’s children, those who were invited and those who just wandered in. I believe that I counted 10 of them at some point, ranging in the 7 to 12 year old age group. Runners and hiders and screamers. They were raucous enough to rouse another neighbor’s dog and generate a brief conversation with her. We’ve had the same conversation many times. I apologize for the noisy children, she warns that if her dog gets out there may be a problem. Then she asks “How many of them ARE there?”
Trudy had gone grocery shopping. When she pulled into her driveway across the street from me, I called out to the gaggle of boys shooting hoops in my driveway “Do we have any gentlemen here?” They replied in chorus “Yes.” I reminded them that real gentlemen would be across the street carrying in groceries for Trudy. She was then mobbed. While they took her purchases into her house, she came over and joined me on the porch.
The weather was perfect. The promised storms completely bypassed us, allowing the children to play outside well into the evening. I have a sense of “time warp” when this happens.
As we sat on the porch, I flashed through the almost 20 years I’ve spent sitting on this same porch watching all of the children play. Many of them have grown to adulthood and have children of their own now. I hear from them periodically. I keep in touch with them on Facebook and Myspace. I watch as they bring children of their own in the world and move forward with their lives. Once in a while they’ll show up, dragging their own children and reminiscing about the carefree days of their childhood playing in my yard.
Spring is a time of new beginnings and a time of renewal for me. Just as the crocuses and my allergies return every year, so do the neighborhood children. As usual, this year, there are some new ones that I have yet to learn the names of. And the chorus hasn’t changed either. When they are doing something they maybe shouldn’t be doing and I move towards them to investigate, “HIDE, Holly’s coming!”
It’s one of the patterns in the tapestry of my life. And I like that there’s a small voice that sounds like mine buried in their psyches that is saying “You know, guys…. that might not be a good idea.” or “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
At the end of the day, everyone enjoyed themselves. The children crawled into bed worn out from the running around and subsequent playing of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero at Trudy’s house. My world again became quiet. As I closed my book on the day, I smiled. Goal accomplished. We had fun!
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