The Block Guardian

Our block is a cul-de-sac in an aging neighborhood.  We’ve lived in the center house since 1977.  Back then it was a much livelier place than it is now.  It rang with the noise of our kids and neighbor kids playing in the circle with bats, balls, skates, bikes, kites, radio-controlled cars, and hammocks hanging in our tree.   Kids are very scarce around here now; it’s a treat when grandchildren visit at the corner house and we can hear them yelling in the pool or see them riding scooters ’round the circle.  Last summer there was an enchanted moment when I watched a lovely pre-teen girl from that house dance joyfully across their lawn in the rain, freely spinning and laughing and unaware that I watched.  I missed my own long-gone youngsters dreadfully for just that little time.

Now it’s a quiet neighborhood.  Without the children to serve as bridges, we’ve disconnected from our neighbors, don’t even know their names now.  In some of the houses, renters come and go, sometimes with not a word spoken between us.  Not one of us makes an effort to be neighborly.

Yet we do have one strong common thread among us.  His name is Dave and he is our mailman.  He is friendly and talkative and happy to share neighbor-news as he gathers it on his route.  Yet he is highly professional in manner and dress and appears to take pride in his work.  He rings the bell if he has a package too big to fit in the box, and if the familiar envelope contains prescription medication he won’t leave it out in the heat of summer for fear it will suffer harm.  A good while back when the house next door suffered a burst pipe and Dave spied water leaking out the front door, he called the city to get the water turned off  and canvassed the neighborhood until he found someone who knew a contact for the out-of-town residents.  They were very grateful that he cared, and that he acted.

On Thursday or Friday of last week, Dave rang our doorbell.  He had finished the route and driven his mail truck back around to our house.  This was our conversation:

Dave:  Do you know there’s a dead cat in your yard?

Me:  Huh?  A cat?  No.   Is it that orange one that’s been stalking my bird feeder with no success?

Dave:  No, this one’s black and white. See it just out there, a dark spot on the grass?  There’s not much left of it but the head.

Me:  Oh, yeah, I see it, I can see an ear sticking up.

Dave:  Don’t go out there and look at it.  It’s torn up, you don’t want to see it.

Me:  Okay.  What do you think happened to it?  I haven’t seen or heard anything, no dogs or anything.

Dave:  Oh, I expect it was a coyote.  Probably happened right there, they don’t usually move them after they kill them.

Me:  Really?  A coyote in our yard?  Are there coyotes around here?

Dave:  Oh yeah, been some over on another street.  I’m pretty sure I know whose cat it is.  Mr. B. around the block from here told me his cat’s been missing for a couple of days, asked me to watch out for it.  I’m going around now to tell him I found it.  Now, don’t you go out there.  We’ll take care of it.

Me:  Uh, thanks.  I really appreciate your help.  Really, a coyote?  In our yard? 

Within ten minutes the bell rang again.  It was Mr. B, a rather frail looking older guy.  He wanted to tell me that his dead cat was in my yard.  He also wanted to tell me that the cat was the offspring of a stray mother who had chosen his garage as the place to birth her kittens a few years ago.  And that his wife had mistakenly named this kitten Lily, but later learned she had the gender wrong.  She just continued to call him Lily, though.  He had a little camera in his hand and he said he was going to take a picture of what was left of Lily, to show his wife at home so that she would know it was really him.  He said that he would call animal control to come and take what remained of Lily away.  And he told me not to go out there and look.  It was pretty bad, he said.  I just said that I was very sorry about Lily, and he went off to show the picture to his wife.

A few minutes later Mr. B. was back in my front yard, as I could see from my office window.  He stood quietly beside his cat until the city truck came.  The young driver stood with him and talked for quite a while, no doubt hearing all about Lily, before he scooped up the remains and took them away.

So thanks to Dave, I was spared the unpleasantness of coming unexpectedly upon a dead cat in my yard.  And an old gentleman who loved the cat was treated with utmost kindness by the guardian of our block.

Our neighborhood is really a very nice place to live.


A cat is there when you call her–if she has nothing better to do.                   Bill Adler


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This entry was posted on Sunday, January 24th, 2010 at 5:15 pm and is filed under Things to Think About. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “The Block Guardian”

  1. I, Rodius on January 25th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Something’s been lost in the modern blocks of mail boxes that have made mail delivery more efficient. I couldn’t tell you what our mail man looks like, let alone what his name is.

  2. Meg on February 12th, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I am happy to say that my mail lady drives up with a smile everyday, however I think it is Duke that is our guardian. (you know the gentleman in the circle in the wheel chair) He seems to know everything going on and is always friendly and eager to chat. I think he is happiest when all the kids are in the circle and he can help pump up a tire or just come out for a visit.

    We know most of our neighbors but I think that is due to hanging out in the circle with the kids or due to having to retrive a stray ball. So, Duke is the guardian, but I’m pretty sure the neighborhood kids are the angels.