For someone who lives such a simple life, I still manage to find excitement. Or rather, excitement manages to find me.
This particular adventure started with the snowstorm last night.
I went out in the dark to brush off the four-inch accumulation from my ramp. The snow doesn’t melt as quickly from the wooden ramp as it does from the sidewalks, and I wanted to make sure no ice formed under the additional two inches that would pile up in the next few hours. It was a lovely night: luminous and oh, so quiet. I stood there, broom in hand, and enjoyed the experience of being inside my own personal snow globe.
This morning, when I went out to finish sweeping the ramp, I discovered that someone (my next door neighbor, I learned later) had shoveled the sidewalk in front of my house. Such a nice thing to have done!
By the time I finished sweeping the ramp and brushing the snow off my covered car, the clouds had cleared away and the sun was shining warmly. So I went inside, opened the curtains to the back yard to get the benefit of the warmth, and . . .
What the heck?
Footsteps led from the back gate, across the newly dug garage foundation, around the carport almost to the house, then back around and into the carport, and finally out the gate. I told myself I must be misinterpreting what I was seeing. This neighborhood is crawling with feral cats, and I thought that perhaps they had sunk into the snow as they made their rounds.
But no. When I went out to look, I could see that the tracks had been made by shoes, so a person had definitely come in the yard, though it didn’t look as if anything had been taken. (The snow that had blown onto the things stored under the carport had been undisturbed.)
I checked with the contractor to make sure neither he nor one of his workers had come for a ladder or some such they had left here, but he said they hadn’t stopped by and he was sure the building inspector hadn’t either since the inspector wouldn’t have needed to enter the yard. The contractor suggested I call the sheriff, but I hesitated, since nothing had been taken.
Instead, I checked with my next door neighbors who have a camera pointed at the alley to see if they could see anything, and there it was — a video of a hooded fellow very deliberately striding up to my gate, crossing the foundation for the garage, leaving camera range, then a minute or so later, retracing his steps. My neighbor husband, being a tracker, followed the footsteps into a well-trafficked street a couple of blocks away where they disappeared.
My neighbor wife came over to stay with me and said I really should call the sheriff to report an intrusion, so I gave in and did. (Is this a small-town thing? In bigger cities, we don’t generally report something so minor, mostly because we know the cops are too busy to care.) While we waited for someone from the sheriff’s department to come, we sipped flower tea and talked about the theft/homeless/street people problem, which is fairly new in this area. There is a homeless coalition housed nearby, and they bus in people from the big cities, many of whom wash out of the program and end up on the streets here. It’s a good thing for those who stay to finish the program, but overall, it’s not a very good thing for the town.
The sergeant from the sheriff’s department came after about an hour, though he did say (when I asked) that if it had been an emergency, he would have been here immediately. Apparently, a couple of ambulance calls took precedence over my non-emergency. He took my name and birthdate, and I offered him a cup of tea. (I have to laugh at myself in light of my post yesterday about channeling my inner elder since offering tea seems such an . . . ahem, old lady . . . thing to do.)
The sergeant said that the guy in the video didn’t look like any of their “frequent flyers.” We told him we thought it might have been our troublemaking neighbor, but that the tracks hadn’t led to his house. The deputy said that the guy doesn’t live there any more, and if we see him to call because there is a warrant for his arrest — fraud and embezzlement. (Apparently, he is a full-service thug — drug dealer, thief, breaker of the peace, and now defrauder and embezzler.) Before he left, the sergeant said that he would make sure the alley behind my house is patrolled.
By the time I had a chance to take a photo after everything quieted down, most of the 6” of snow had melted, but the tracks were still visible. By sundown tonight, the snow will be gone and all but the memory of the weird event will have disappeared. Well, the memory and the locks I immediately went out to buy to secure the gates.
It really had surprised me that a potential thief would be brazen enough to come through the gate even at that time of night (2:35 a.m. according to the video). A lot of things go missing in this neighborhood, but generally, things are not taken from fenced yards. I have a hunch the absence of my car from under the carport (it’s temporarily parked out front since I can’t get around the garage foundation to park it under the carport) made him think the house was empty.
Adding to the weirdness, when I went to get the locks, it turned out they were kept behind the counter as if they were a controlled substance. Apparently, locks are one of that store’s most stolen items, second only to duct tape.
Weirdest of all, none of this scared me. It probably should, but I had the fence put up, am now using my new locks, and once the garage is up and everything stored out of sight, I will have done everything I can to protect myself.
I might be heading toward elderliness (young elderliness, that is), but I don’t intend to live in fear.
And anyway, at least in the writing, it seems that all this excitement wasn’t so exciting after all.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator