It has gotten cold in Delaware. We even saw a few snowflakes this week. Okay, more than a few, but not enough to make any impression. Except on Certain Man. He saw a whole lot more than he likes to see for an entire season. Never mind that he says the same thing when he only sees one.
“I saw a snowflake today,” he will announce with that glint in his eye, “and that was already two too many.” He thinks that strong statement puts his dislike of snow into pretty plain perspective. I learned a long time ago that it does little good to argue with him. Or to even act delighted about falling snow. I won’t win anyhow. You know, that business about
“A man convinced against his will
is of the same opinion still.”
It is true. At least it is true with the man that I know best.
He’s been working on getting things settled down for the winter. He hauled out his chainsaw and “lopper-offer” thing that is long handled with a rope that comes down. He uses this to prune off the higher up branches that are not quite so large. He has done a remarkable job of taking down the old Mimosa tree that died, and thinning and pruning the swamp maples that stand like sentries at the road side of the big lawn. He has developed a serious interest in making it a little easier to see across the lawn from the road to the house and vice versa.
This is because there has been a prowler at Shady Acres.
And because of the trees, it is hard to see anything that is going on under the cover of darkness.
It seems to have begun sometime last summer. He and I were attempting to sleep one night a few months back when we smelled cigarette smoke. Our windows were open, and we both wondered a bit, but people do walk on the road beside our house, and we have neighbors who smoke, so we just figured that it was someone on the road or a neighbor enjoying a smoke that was wafted in on the night air. We discussed but didn’t investigate.
Then a short time later, while weeding the flower beds, we found a cigarette stuck firmly between the ends of two deck floor boards — like someone had put it there to store it somehow. It wasn’t something that was accidental at all and we had some speculative moments as we wondered how in the world that got there, but again, we are pretty clueless and it didn’t ruffle our feathers too much. This summer, there were times when we heard things, but we attributed it to a cat or some such things. Sometimes, if I were down on my chair reading, and there was some strange, muffled thumps, I would quickly outten the light and head up to where brave Certain Man was sleeping. And I would creep in beside him and feel really safe once I was up there and that was good enough for me.
But over these last few weeks there have been a few things we could not ignore. Black tire tracks all over the cement between the chicken house and the manure shed. Endless lines of circles that seemed to be just mischief, but disconcerting just the same. We thought maybe a feed truck had done it — gotten misdirected some how and had gone up to that area and turned around. But there were a few too many circles, plus we were not due a delivery and had no feed ticket for that night. Certain Man did report it, but the state police came and looked, but appeared unimpressed.
Then about three weeks ago, we found more cigarette butts in the rose garden beside the back deck that goes out to the wash line, and one lying up on the deck, against the house in a small pile of leaves. This I found one day and was a bit startled as well as mystified. I saved everything to show Certain Man. When he perused the whole area, he decided to leave the deck lights on out to see if it would discourage the trespasser. So, that night we went to bed with the yard lit up like a Christmas tree. The only problem was, our hospice nurse daughter was working that night, and when she came home, she turned the back lights off before going to bed.
The next morning, on my way to the washline, I found an Hawaiian lei in the rose garden, wrapped around a three inch tree and stretched out to the full length with a single twist to it. The lei had been in the pavilion, in a box where I kept prizes for the fourth of July picnic. The night had been calm. Certain Man and I had been out there late the night before, trying to figure out about the cigarette butts lying around. This was obviously someone who wanted us to know that someone had been around.
Certain Man called a friend who is a state trooper, and she said that he should report it so that there would be a paper trail if anything more serious happens. And so a friendly State Policeman came by and took notes and observed and agreed with us that it did not appear to be malicious, but more just mischievous. He agreed that someone had been trespassing and encouraged us to keep a closer watch. And then he went away again after a friendly chat with Certain Man about chickens and chicken companies and flock supervisors.
Since then we have installed some surveillance. There are motion sensor lights on that side of the deck. And we’ve received pictures of the area from the middle of the night.
A cat, making its way across the yard.
A feed truck, dispensing feed at the chicken houses.
Middle Daughter’s lights, shining across the yard when she made the corner to drive into the garage in the wee hours of the morning
The lights from the garage windows that shown across the patio at 1:47 a.m. when Certain Man, awake with his bothersome restless leg syndrome, went to the garage to fill a milk pitcher.
And one very windy night, the camera sent me 527 pictures of what appeared to be NOTHING, just picture after picture of dark outlines of deck rails and window boxes with waning summer flowers.
But no prowler. Oh, the motion sensor lights come on at times, and we never know what it is, but the surveillance has not caught the picture of anyone or thing that looks even remotely suspicious.
“What are you thinking,” I asked Certain Man the other morning.
“I don’t know,” he said thoughtfully. “I’m sorta’ thinking that it has gotten cold and that will make people less likely to prowl around.”
“But what are we trying to do, here?” I asked him. “What if we do get a picture of a prowler? What are we going to do then? Are we going to confront him? Report him? And do we want to catch him or are we just trying to discourage him from coming around?”
I didn’t get an answer on that. Certain Man and I may not be exactly united on this front. I honestly don’t want to “catch” anyone. And whomever it is hasn’t done any damage (heretofore, anyhow) but I just don’t feel very secure with thinking that there is someone lurking on the dark side of my house.
Certain Man is doing some serious trimming. We continue to monitor, and make use of the motion sensors. I don’t run out to the back yard after dark with quite the abandon that I have enjoyed in the past.
But most of all, I continue to Pray. It is still the best thing I have found to do in situations such as these. “The angels keep watch,” I told Our Girl Nettie the other night when I was telling her about our escapades. “We have the Angels.”
“And Jesus, too,” she reminded me in quick repartee. “We’ve got Jesus!”
Ah, yes, Nettie-Girl. We’ve got Jesus, too. The hosts of Heaven have kept watch over this house through many dangers, and I believe they are watching still.
Besides that, in spite of all we do, the Bible says,
1 If the Lord does not build the house,
it is useless for the builders to work on it.
If the Lord does not protect a city (or in this case HOUSE)
it is useless for the guard to stay alert.
And so, while we will do what we can to be safe, and try to be responsible, we are in God’s hands, and under His watchful care. May we live faithfully and joyfully and thankfully. For HE is worthy of our praise.