When I was 6, we lived in Rockford, IL. My sister, Julie, and I had to walk back and forth to school every day in the morning and afternoon as well as at lunchtime since there was no cafeteria in the school. About 2 blocks away from our house, on our path to school, lived a man who would wear his winter coat in the summer time amongst other unusual things. It’s obvious to me as an adult that he was disabled in some way but we didn’t have the words in our young vocabulary and we referred to him as the Man with the Mixed Up Mind.
He wasn’t harmful or even scary to us; just strange. We would make sure to always walk by his house on the other side of the street so that we didn’t get in his way.
Now, some 40 years later, there is another man who lives about the same distance away from our house here who I think of in pretty much the same terms. Only this man is SCARY. Probably because he’s bigger than me and very intimidating.
One day, a year or so ago, I was walking Rabi past his house. Rabi’s favorite thing to do is sniff. The man had been working in his yards and was getting ready to lay some mulch around the trees that are on the public property that is between the public sidewalk and the street. Rabi decided to stop and smell the bag of mulch and then we continued on around the corner where the man came barrelling out of the backyard, red faced and screaming at me about not letting my dog do his business on his trees. I stopped and told him he had it wrong and he kept ranting at me about how my dog should do his business in our yard and not his. But Rabi hadn’t done anything. From then on, I have always crossed the street to walk by his house so that he doesn’t come and attack me like that again.
Another day when I was coming around the next block over towards his house, some kids were coming down the public sidewalk next to his house on skateboards. Once again, the man came tearing out of his yard screaming at the kids that he would kill them. Wow! I should have called the police and reported it and to this day I can’t think why I didn’t. One poor little kid was running so fast I swear his feet weren’t even touching the ground, his face covered in a look of sheer terror saying “I didn’t do anything!”. And he didn’t. They didn’t. I saw the entire thing transpire.
The man’s yard is always beautiful. The plantings are gorgeous and well tended. We just got back from a walk and he has spent today putting up his Christmas decorations. It looks just like a TOYLAND! Awesome and wonderful and something a child would definitely want to stop and investigate. But beware! I fear it’s like the witch’s cottage in Hansel and Gretel and that the outcome of such investigation might come to no good.
Here are a couple of photos I risked life and limb to take last night. Unfortunately, they don’t adquately show just how MAGICAL the yard is.
I feel sorry for this man. I have never seen anyone at his house except for him and his two dogs. I don’t know why he is so miserable but I pray that he will find peace in the beauty that he surrounds himself with and stop scaring the heck out of the neighbors!