Halfway around the lake this morning in a cold and driving rain, I started wondering if a walk was actually a good idea. (As did Riley. He kept looking up at me with his Really? We're going to keep going, really? look.) Most of the birds from yesterday--the bat-like cormorants, drying their wings in the sun; the trilling blackbirds; the cardinals full of cheer! cheer!--were nowhere to be seen. But I watched an egret fly in, gleaming white against the dark gray sky.
And ducks, of course, were everywhere. Good weather for ducks. Mallards, wood ducks, scaup, a few stray merganzers and loons.
On the far side of the lake, we were protected from the wind, and I slowed just in time to watch one--two--three--four great blue herons lift off from the weeds. Wow! I have not seen that many herons together outside of a rookery. They glided in a big loop with their slow, lazy flapping wings, and then took off in different directions. I had not brought my camera with me, fearing it would be ruined in the cold rain, but a picture of that would have been spectacular. You will have to imagine it. (The picture above is mine, but from a couple of years ago.)
Last night we attended a neighborhood meeting on crime. You remember our break-in from last July. Well, a couple across the alley from us was broken into a few weeks after that. And then, earlier this month, our next door neighbors were broken into. All of these happened in broad daylight, while we were all at work. The folks across the alley had, like us, left a kitchen window open. But our next-door-neighbors had not; the thieves simply smashed out the glass.
So we had a meeting with the cops and our city councilor who, conveniently, is up for re-election and so was pretty responsive to my emails. There were probably 50 people at the meeting, many with a story to tell about car break-ins, garage break-ins, people on their deck in the middle of the night.
The cops listened, and they handed out pamphlets ("What to do before the burglar comes!") and one of them stood with his arms folded across his chest and a look of boredom on his face. They gave us cheery reassuring statistics--three break-ins in a year is not very many! It's worse elsewhere! And your numbers haven't gone up since last year!
But they did not seem to understand until very late in the meeting that we had had three break-ins on one alley. Not region-wide, or neighborhood wide. Three on our alley, between late July and early April.
When they finally realized that, they said they would drive down our alley and take a look. They said they would do more patrols "when possible." They suggested everyone add motion lights (even as we reminded them that these were all daytime break-ins). They urged us to lock our doors and windows ("You'd be surprised how many people don't lock their doors!" and we all tried not to roll our eyes). They said that things like private fenced yards only make things easier for burglars. (Our yard is fenced, but it's hardly private; the picket fence is three feet high.) They suggested we all get to know each other and be on the lookout and call the police if we see "suspicious activity."
They pointed out in a not-so-subtle way that there are worse crimes out there. (They mentioned sex crimes. They mentioned shootings in Frogtown.) An hour later, we all dispersed into the balmy spring evening, drifted toward home, chatting about how frustrating this all was, trying to figure out what we could do beyond what we are already doing, since clearly the police aren't going to do anything.
Before I went to bed, I switched on the motion light, as I do every night. I locked all our doors and windows, as we do every night. I thought about putting out a note, like James Thurber's aunt used to do; she was terrified that burglars were going to blow chloroform under her door, so she used to pile all her valuables outside of her door every night with a note that read, "This is all I have. Please do not use the chloroform, as this is all I have."
We went to bed. Overnight, the rain began.