Recently, I started subscribing to a service called “The Produce Box”. Each Thursday, I place a cooler on my front porch and a representative, who I have yet to see, delivers fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers right to my front door. Sometimes, I work from home on Thursday. When I am home, I usually find myself checking the front porch a couple of times before she actually delivers my food. Last Thursday was no different. Around 1:00 pm, I decided to check the front porch for my stash. I opened the door and stepped out to pick up my cooler, which was tucked into a corner right by the front door. I could tell by the feel of it that she had not yet come so I stepped back inside. I closed the screen and was about to close the front door when one of my cats, Mia, jumped onto the back of the couch; she craned her head to see out the front door and to smell the smells of the front yard. I have a screened porch on the back, and my two cats stay out there a lot; but the front door is usually closed so the front yard is a mystery to them.
Like most people, I have two sides. One side, creative Wendy, is my soul, my freedom. The other side, practical Wendy, is the one who holds down a full-time job and pays the bills. Now, at the moment that Mia climbed onto the back of the couch, practical Wendy felt like she needed to close the door and go back to work; but creative Wendy was empathetic to Mia’s desire to look outside so I decided to leave the door open for a moment. I stood there and looked out the door myself. It was a bright, glorious day with a brilliant blue sky. It was rather windy. A gentle gust of wind found its way to the front door and I breathed it in. It was a contradictory wind, crisp and cool like a soft winter but warm, as well, as if it were wrapped in the sun. A wind enveloped by the sun. Practical Wendy suddenly decided that I was getting a little doughy so it would be good to take a break and go for a short walk down the road. I stroked Mia’s little head, closed the door and put on my shoes.
I live on a gravel road that is nestled between two areas that are quickly being developed. Developers are foaming at the mouth to get their hands on my road, but the residents have put up a fight. For now there is a moratorium on annexing our road into the city. I kind of like walking down the gravel road. It’s dustier, there are potholes, but when I walk down my road, I feel like I’ve put a little extra effort into my walk. It’s also different than the roads around me. The neighborhoods on either side are very cookie cutter, but my road is a little slice of country. It is a mixture of double-wides and houses and everyone has a large yard. There are times when my large yard is a bit too much for me to handle. If the developers win, I will greet it with a mix of emotions. On the one hand, I probably should live somewhere that is easier for me to manage. On the other hand, this much space is hard to come by in today’s world.
You see things on my road that you don’t always see in other neighborhoods. One of my neighbors has a couple of roosters and several chickens. Frequently, I look into the yard to see what I call “the chicken posse” wandering around, pecking for bugs and seeds. They act very entitled to my space and provide no end of entertainment for the cats, who sit crouched and watching them with interest.
As I made my way down the road, I remembered a couple of houses with un-fenced yards where the people let their dogs run free. This drove me crazy when I had my own dogs-God rest their canine souls-a German Shepard mix and a lab mix. Best dogs ever. They spent over a decade with me. Sometimes, it was like dodging bullets walking them down this road. I never knew if one of the neighbors’ dogs would dart out to greet us and whether it would get along with my dog, who was on a leash. Once I had to let my lab off the leash so that she could run home because two jack russells came tearing out of their yard, nipping at her. I didn’t want her to get mad and strike back.
When I got halfway down the road, sure enough, a barking dog ran to the corner of his yard, not so much in an aggressive way but not entirely in a friendly way, either. It was more of a “Hey! Hey! What are you doing here?!” kind of way. I glanced up and regarded him. The thing about dogs is there is a way to handle them. You have to hold your own without challenging them. “Hello, doggie,” I said, glancing over, but I kept my pace and continued walking. His owner called him from the yard. I passed another house with a goat fenced in the back yard. All of the noise from the barking dog had gotten him worked up and he was back there bleating. Two houses down, another dog. This yard was fenced but the gate was open. Geez, people. This one approached me in a little more of a badass fashion. Same thing. I regarded him. “Hello, doggie,” I said and kept on going. He stood in the road and barked after me as I continued my trek.
I walked to the end of the street. There was a large yard at the end of the street that for years housed only a shed. “Suspicious”, one of my friends had commented when we had walked the road together. But now the shed had expanded. It had become a tiny house with a second story. I could see an air conditioner protruding from the window on the second floor and two adirondack chairs in the yard. Maybe not so suspicious, after all, I thought. Maybe just a person with limited funds who needed time.
I turned around and started back. Within minutes, I saw the second dog standing in the road, waiting and looking my way. As I walked towards him, he started barking, “Hey! Hey! What, are you comin back?!” I stayed the route. For a long time, he didn’t move. I wondered how this game of chicken was going to play out, but eventually he moved out of the center of the road toward his house. His movements were slow and subtle so as not to not lose face, but he never stopped grumbling.
Then past the goat again and the first dog, whose owner had gone inside. He/she stood on the edge of his yard with a friend, a little white terrier mix. Reinforcements, I guessed. “Hey! Hey!” they barked as I walked by, “Didn’t I tell you last time? Where are you going?” These two actually came out into the road and sniffed at my legs in between barks. Eventually, I left them behind.
I wandered back into my own yard. I wondered if my produce had arrived. I didn’t know what time it was, but I knew my break was over. Practical Wendy had let creative Wendy out for a while to decompress, but now it was time to go back to work.