23 May 2012
The suburbs, I quickly learned after we moved into them in August, are really all about trading the sounds that your neighbors make through your shared walls for the sounds that your neighbors’ dogs make in your adjoining backyards.
These days, particularly with a baby whose main response to the threat of sleep is full-throated screaming, I’m pretty happy with that trade-off. I’m taking a lot of early-morning walks, since it’s already getting to the point where it’s just too damn hot in the midday and afternoon sun. And by now, I’ve mostly lost my canine flinch reflex, because any time you go to walk around this particular suburban neighborhood you’ll find yourself suddenly, vigorously barked at by an invisible something on the other side of a white vinyl fence. So far, though, I’ve only found myself occasionally chaperoned by a pompous little Chihuahua mix who occasionally slips out of his owner’s yard, so the threat remains mostly unseen.
There are also a lot of neighborhood cats, all of whom appear well-fed and properly be-collared. Since we live in an area populated with coyotes, said officious Chihuahua, the occasional rogue bobcat, and roving after-school packs of grade-school boys, virtually all of the local cats rather sensibly elect to stay out of the way, glowering suspiciously at you from under cars parked in driveways or slinking into the nearest storm drain. Garth and Sebastian have neither the street smarts nor the desire to go outside, but even if they did, I think I’d want to keep them away from the influence of the local sewer-dwelling element. It seems unsavory. Though I do like to pretend that those sewer-slinking cats are emissaries for some kind of secret subterranean cabal of ninja cats.
Lastly, there are a ton of mockingbirds around here — perched in trees, patrolling from the fenceposts, surveying the world from the rooftops. And, apparently, keeping the pets of the neighborhood in check. Several times during the past few weeks, I’ve walked past an unsuspecting cat sprawled out in the grass in quasi-stealth mode in the process of being rousted from their complacency by a mockingbird repeatedly dive-bombing their head. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh the mockingbird will go, each pass a little closer to the furry feline scalp, until the victimized cat decides that s/he has somewhere else to be and unceremoniously seeks refuge inside, bird belligerently fluttering in his wake.
I guess we know who really owns the neighborhood.