This is my 707th post in the journey of writing about life after 60, on the backside of a small mountain in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire. I was mentally reviewing my day and realized my normal is probably anything but normal to most reading this…
I was headed home between hospice and going to work at the store. As I drove along enjoying the balmy November weather, I was mentally organizing what I could do in the two hours between those activities. Our country road is recently repaved, which has turned a winding two-lane track into a NASCAR speedway, particularly during commuting hours for the local Millipore factory. As I drove the exact speed-limit back between jobs, the cars piled up behind me. It’s a small way I torture the rest of the world and make them slow down.
I walk Alice every morning and am becoming quite well-known as the road rage police of West Road. Coffee cups have been thrown at me, rude gestures and blaring horns are frequent responses to my suggestions to slow down, and one day some nutcase chased me up my driveway. At the time, I thought, “Damn, why did I go up MY driveway???” Choosing a neighbor’s drive wouldn’t have made much difference as we don’t interact much beyond the classic Yankee Nod to courtesy when we meet. The woods between us shield our houses for most of the year. Block parties are not part of our culture.
A nice family came into the store later that day. As they were paying for their purchases we discovered they live a mile down the road from me. We waxed poetic about our sense of outrage at the speeding drivers. He suggested I wear a shirt/vest proclaiming “SPEED LIMIT 30 MPH” and I laughed, then thought GENIUS!
And then there is my neighbor and her animals. I have no doubt she is a hoarder, but so far the animals have always come first in her life as her home imploded around her. Several of the windows on the house are covered in plywood, those that remain reveal overly excited, small, yapping dogs through the smeary haze.
Wilson called to report one of her four horses had escaped during rush hour and it had taken a small crowd of onlookers to get the beast back in its squalid pen. “It’s time to do something about the animals.” he said. I agreed with a heavy heart. With winter coming the shelters are already overflowing with chickens, goats, ponies and horses. Spring brings out the farmer in some folks, then the thought of feeding all those mouths through the winter looms.
We are a “Live Free or Die!” kind of place so when does a neighbor step over that line-in-the-sand of minding your own business? I did the first thing I could. I warned her, in no uncertain terms that she was about to be taken down if she didn’t make immediate changes. I offered what help I could but took none of her excuses. “Now, Cecilia! What if there is a car accident because of your horse! If someone chooses to see this as neglect you will lose everything!”
Yes, my day is probably different from most, but the root of it all is probably the same; dealing with the human condition…