Geese, Snow, and Democracy

9 02 2010

The problem with Congress these days is that its members are so sharply divided along party lines that reasonable discussion never takes place and hence reasonable votes never occur.

I live on a cul de sac which traditionally has similar problems.  There are twelve houses.  Those on one side of the street more or less back to a pond and an adjacent meadow.  About ninety percent of the topics we as a community must deal with revolve around this common area.  A contractor must be hired to mow the grass.  There’s a gazebo and small bridge that seem to constantly be in need of repair.  The water level seems too high…or too low.

And the geese that used to be migratory seem to have set up permanent residence….and they’re not very good guests.  We’ve tried countless things to encourage these feathered varmints to move on.  We hired someone with a dog to visit regularly and disrupt their ongoing party.  We sprinkled some purple Kool-aid-like stuff that was supposed to annoy them.  Someone strung twine around wooden posts near the water’s edge with the hope of interfering with their landing flight path.  One resident became a card-carrying egg addler, which gave her legal authority to scramble the goose eggs while still in the shell, so the still-in-the-dark mother goose continues to sit on them, not realizing they’re never going to hatch.  We tried a blow-up alligator pool toy to suggest “Danger! Danger!”

We still have the geese.  A tenacious bunch.

But the point is that debate on the implementation of new measures tends to split according to which side of the street one lives on.  If one’s yard is adjacent to the aforementioned property, cost is no object in the quest to maintain this land.  For people on the other side of the street, some of whom could count on one hand the number of times they’ve ambled around the pond, it seems like a waste of community dollars.

We live on the non-pond side, but our front yard is directly across the street access to this area so we kind of sit on the fence.  In the Civil War, I guess we’d be a border state.

But the past four days have created a distinct realigning of alliances.  The snow fell but the plows didn’t come.  Streets around us got plowed but not us.  Phone calls fell on deaf ears.  Finally, the six houses at the top of the street, three on each side, took matters into their own hands and dug themselves out.  I was amazed.  Shovels only; no snow-blowers.  In the words of Martin Luther King: “Free at last.  Free at last.”

But the six houses at the bottom of the street continued to be snowbound.  There was simply no way to manually dig out the entire circle.  A move was put forth to use community funds to hire a private contractor to plow us out, given that the county was leaving us high and dry.

As you might imagine, the people at the top of the street were not so inclined to eat up our budget with the expenditure.  (We only heard from some of those residents, as many were using their newly acquired freedom to visit restaurants, stores, bowling alleys, movies, etc.)

So instead of right versus left it was top versus bottom.  Again, we fall in the middle.  We are the next house down, and within striking distance of digging ourselves out to the cleared part.  But, so far, still stuck.

Another foot of snow is predicted for tonight, which might render this whole discussion moot.




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