If a person lives in a neighborhood long enough, and pays a little bit of attention, he or she will see a shift in the age demographics. I mention it only because I have witnessed it happen in the very neighborhood in which I have resided for over the past three decades.
When my wife, Nancy, and I purchased our house in the "hood," an area bordered on the north by Broadway/St. Mary's Avenue, on the east by Grand Avenue, on the west by James Road and on the south by Market Street, we were the young couple with a hacienda full of elementary-aged youngsters. Surrounding us on all sides were residences occupied by nice, little old ladies. I can only imagine what went through their minds as they peaked outside from behind their window curtains and watched as a family with four young children moved in next door.
Over the passage of time these silver-haired saints either passed away or moved away, which created an opportunity for other families with youngsters to move into the vacant houses. Today numerous families with children, ranging in age from elementary through high school, reside near us.
Just as was the case when our four oldest offspring, Caleb, Jacob, Amanda and Amber, were still in grade school, today's young residents of the "hood" still go outside and play after school. However, unlike the Henley foursome, who would engage in a game such as ball tag, today's neighborhood kiddos seem content to do little more than simply mill around. I have witnessed little if any running, jumping or throwing. I must add that their walking and talking is absolutely fine with me because thus far all the milling around has not been synonymous with mischief.
The typical aimlessness was replaced for a time last week when two young girls became fascinated with the body of a dead squirrel.
While on a walk I had spotted the bushy-tailed creature laying in a patch of grass between the sidewalk and curb, almost directly across the street from the Henley hacienda. I found myself wondering if this was the same animal that I would periodically see walking along a wire outside our kitchen window. Perhaps it had gotten careless while performing its high-wire act on a windy day. Maybe its time was up. One thing is certain, unlike many squirrels that wind up flat after failing to yield to a passing vehicle, this particular animal looked as if it was simply napping, which may have added to the fascination of the two elementary-aged girls who found it.
Using sticks from a nearby tree the youngsters poked and prodded the squirrel for a time. Then, using a chopsticks technique, the girls attempted to move the body with little success.
Judging by how one of the girls was periodically turning her head and taking a deep breath, the girls learned a lesson about the decomposition process after a dead animal had laid in the sun on consecutive days when the temperature was more like a spring day than a winter one.
After watching the children for a time something else caught my attention, causing me to step away from the window. When I returned to check on their progress, both girls and the squirrel were nowhere to be seen. All I knew was that the rodent had not wound up in my yard, for which I was very thankful, and that for a time there had been something that fascinated two little girls in the "hood."