Great intentions

I had great intentions of  writing things on Sunday. It was a perfect day with the sun out in full blazes warming up the crocus, casting shadows on the shoots of phlox pushing through.
Down on the Alouette Dikes in the mud shallows, green river grasses were sprouting,  just enough so that the sandbar had a faint new green tinge on it. Of course that was Sunday, and I’d hate to see it now. It snowed an inch today and was grey and miserable. I actually had to shovel off the very slippery steps before I could go out to hang a painting at the Civic Library this morning.

Sunday, though, promised spring and everyone and their dog was out there. I had the fortune to have a walking companion, Rose, a relatively new friend who also hails from Vancouver area, and I’ve found another soul who doesn’t need to have it explained when I throw out one of my many “Look-at” exclamations as I sight another photographic or paintable moment. She’s an artist too, and joined in with an equivalent number of “Look-at”s.

We saw a lone blue heron plodding ponderously through a muddy shallow, dipping occasionally for a meal. We saw a man with red shirt and bright blue trousers fishing for rainbow trout.  Canes of some wetland shrub were turning scarlet with new sap.  Though we had sunshine and warm temperatures at sea level,  on the not-so-distant mountains there was a fresh cap of white snow.

Afterward, we indulged in a very wicked Danish pastry from the European Bakery and a cup of tea and I”m glad I did. The memory of that crispy bottomed patisserie tinged with a hint of lemon and of  marzipan flavor kept me sane over the next few days as I grappled with the latest tummy virus that has been doing rounds.

I’ve had three lazy days as a result, sleeping extra hours and cranking up the heat in the living room fireplace.  I cancelled my tutoring and my art teaching gigs and took a break by necessity.

But I began this with a tale of Sunday and an idyllic walk along the dikes, stopping at the farm with the chicken pen that abuts the pathway. Anyone can buy twenty-five cents of good corn kernels from the farmer’s  clever gum-ball machine to feed the blighters and many a parent obliges a delighted child. The hens all come gathering around in a crowd as densely shouldering out their neighbours  as demonstrators in a London protest. We were lucky to pass by when no such bustling was in progress.

We watched as two hens scratched out a hollow for themselves then continued to scratch the depression wider and deeper as they lolled on their sides in a fetal position, all curled up and on their sides. I had a flock of chickens once in my early days, and I don’t remember them doing that. We couldn’t figure it out and eventually just walked on.

After our afternoon tea at Rose’s place, I went back home and changed for dinner. The Market association to which I belong was having a dinner and two guest speakers. I had no idea how to dress for this occasion so opted for a casual but dressy costume and hied upstairs to prepare myself.

At the top of the stairs, I looked out the side window to the north and saw a power truck – one of those souped up pick-up trucks with excessive tires and a broad truck-bed that makes the unit look very muscly. (Oh boy! Does that word ever look misspelled, but I’ve looked it up. Honest.)

The four scruffy individudals in heavy work boots, hoodies, torn jeans and logger shirts kibbutzing aroung the truck didn’t have much much to recommend them with regards to confidence. It unsettled me because the house had been vacant for more than a month.

Don’t get me wrong. This is very nice neighbourhood. But I think the former tenants did a bunk. Left maybe without paying. It was almost the end of the month, the twenty-ninth, but I couldn’t see furniture going in or out. I didn’t think these were new neighbours, but there was a slight chance. I cursed the developer who had purchased the property and then left the house next to me in ambiguous limbo.

Then I phoned the family just over the fence to the south. They’d been watching too and expressed uneasiness at the likelihood of shiftless neighbours.

As I dressed in my good slacks and fished out a dressy blouse, collected my honey-comb patterned black sweater for my evening sortie, I ruminated over the possibilities.  I would not forgive myself if a financial conflagration were about to take place or the copper pipes were once again being lifted out of the house. That had happened in March last year while I was away in Fiji. The malefactors had left the water running and the place was flooded before the developers discovered it.

Despite it being close to my departure time for this special dinner, I called nine-eleven.  After five minutes of waiting for an operator,  I explained my concern.

“Is anyone being murdered or injured”

“No,” I answered, much less sure of my decision to tell.

“Is property being destroyed?”

“Not that I can see. You understand that I don’t want them to see that I’m looking at them and phoning and then the police turn up. My house would be the next one to be vandalized.”

The operator understood but referred me to the non-urgent line. I hadn’t passed the emergency test.

After a hesitation and another eyeball on the situation, I called the non-emergency line. Another wait of five minutes. A woman constable identified herself and I gave my particulars and then my story.

“Can you see the license plate number?”
“No. The car is backed up against a tree. I can’t see the plate.”

“Are they still there? What are they doing?”

At this point the truck took off towards the back of the property tearing up the lawn with its mega tires and three fellows all moved on foot towards the back. Just about as promptly, the truck roared back, spun around, backed up against the tree again and the motor was killed.

I explained this to the constable.

“Keep telling me what they are doing. Stay on the line,” she commanded. “What can you see?”

“One of them is lifting an ax out of the flatbed box.” I said. Then another picked up a gasoline container and I couldn’t tell whether or not he took it out or put it back. Getting particulars was difficult when looking through a slit in the window, I was at such an angle so not to be seen.

“We’ll send someone out right away,” she promised. I advised her that I had to go out and was expected somewhere at five. It was already five. She said it was of no importance, not to worry about it.

Within minutes, before I had gotten my keys, before I had set the house alarm, the phone rang. It was Constable Smith, a good looking man, from the sound of his voice.

“We’re just outside your house behind the hedge,” he explained. “It is the house to the north of you, isn’t it?” It was.

“We’re not going in until we have back-up. They have weapons, ” he stated.

“I’m going out.” I said, and he accepted that without protest nor a warning for me.

I locked up the house and got into my car quickly. I drove off, noting that there were already two police cars in front of my house. I reflected that they were probably taking my word for it that they had a hatchet and a gasoline supply and that was what they were considering weapons.

As I drove off, I began to have regrets. What if they were just paid help moving the new tenants’ goods. What if they were the new tenants? A fine start that would be to have the neighbour sic the police on them on moving day. I weighed the two possibilities in my mind all through dinner and finally forgave myself for my doubts. If something catastrophic had happened and I had said nothing, I would not have forgiven myself.

It was a lovely dinner. It was a boring lecture. I’d had a full day and I was glad to get home.

When I got there, there was nothing to indicate that anything had occurred except the large swath of tire tracks in the otherwise green lawn.

Monday while battling the trials of the flu, I saw a lovely young woman come in, park a nice clean blue car of recent date. I thought “Oops! Maybe it was people moving in after all.”

Tuesday, I forgave myself again. I don’t really know what happened there, but there is a tell-tale pile of refuse sitting in the front yard waiting for pick-up. There are at least twenty black garbage bags piled one on another. Five of them have rolls of carpeting stuffed in them.

Something happened.


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3 Responses to “Great intentions”

  1. swatch Says:

    Hey K – well done – you followed your intuition – if they were innocent, after the initial anger they would have appreciated that someone cared enough to make a call. S

  2. wrjones Says:

    Interesting story. Hope your neighbors turn out acceptable.

  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    Hi Swatch, Hi WR,
    Thanks for your comments.
    Time will tell. Someone is living there and the same truck comes from time to time. There are still some unknowns here. I’ll need time to tell.

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