bunt sign

Saturday, January 26, 2002

On my way to the post office (or rather, to the place I park so I can walk to the post office...it's complicated), I drive through a ramshackle neighborhood of older houses and broken-down shacks. Some of the yards are well cared for, but many are crowded over with mound upon mound of junk and debris. I don't think anyone who lives there would contradict that description (although I probably wouldn't press the point).

This neighborhood backs up against a housing development so new that piles of building materials and equipment are all you'll find on some of the lots. The houses themselves are a uniform gray color, but there appear to be two or three different layouts.

In both areas you'll see children playing in the streets. I've wondered if they ever play with each other, but I suspect they do. They probably fight with each other, too, but those kinds of confrontations don't always line up along neighborhood boundaries. In the older part, the yards are bigger, even though they're more clumsily cluttered. The yards are also more likely to be fenced there.

I don't know anything about the people who live in either of the neighborhoods, but on almost every fence in front of almost every house in the older one is a sign that says "No Trespassing," or "Private Property." My first thought was that maybe these folks have less and therefore guard it more jealously.

Then I realized the fallacy of that assumption. Seriously, who says that people who have it don't want to keep it? In fact, my experience has been (and the news every day proves) that the more you have the more you want. Not that anyone who's really well off lives anywhere near that part of town. There's probably less difference in the income or net worth of families in those two neighborhoods than there is between either of them and the folks who live on the other side of the tracks.

And there are tracks, although they don't divide the town in quite the way they used to. We are for the most part more blessedly intermingled than when I was growing up here. It's a comfort to know that we can be different and still live side by side. Music is sweeter when sung in harmony than in unison.

If a discordant note is heard, that's when you'll often find people with the greatest differences speaking as with one voice. It's often when faced with the worst sides of humanity that our better natures come out. There are just too many of us now, living too close together, to allow it to be otherwise.

plum tree

The plum tree can tell by the color of the sky that spring is coming. Soon: blossoms!

On a more frigid note, my furnace has now stopped working altogether. Air blew through the vents all night, but it wasn't heated air. I turned it off and called the landlord again this morning. He was here for about an hour tonight and couldn't make any determination except that I was right: it doesn't work. He asked if I thought I could make it through the night, because he couldn't get a heating tech here before tomorrow. I allowed as how I thought I could manage as long as the walls stayed up and the electric blanket still operated.

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Tell old Bill when he comes home
To leave them downtown gals alone.