Saturday, July 13, 2013

People Are Funny

Just down the road from where I live sits the South Freeport Cemetery. When I first moved here four years ago, I walked my dog Rufus through there every day. It's a lovely spot, and is kept up by a caretaker who lives directly adjacent to it. He's out there daily, weather permitting, mowing the grass or hauling away dead trees or restoring the paths after the harsh winter and mud season have taken their toll. Like most Mainers he was reticent at first, but with me and Rufus passing by so often, we got to talking and he told me his name was Phil. That was about the only personal information I had, although I learned from a neighbor that he has a wife, and one day I met his visiting granddaughter playing in his front yard.

Two years later Rufus died and Phil got a puppy of his own who I swore possessed the spirit of Rufus. The dog seemed to recognize me from a former life, and the three of us bonded over Milk-Bones. I made sure to always have some treats in my pocket for Biscuit--that's the dog. Approaching their house on my daily walk, I would often see Phil run up the front steps and let Biscuit out to greet me. We'd chat about this and that for about ten minutes and I would continue on. Sometimes I'd leave dog treats in the mailbox when I passed by and the house was dark. It was all quite Mayberry-ish.

Then a few months ago--abruptly--things changed. Coming around the corner these days, I can see Phil scurry away whenever he sees me approaching. He'll grab the dog and go inside, or duck into the garage, or the two of them will run up into the woods behind the house, obviously avoiding me. I have no idea why and would never dare ask--that's just not done around here. And while it doesn't really matter, still it's sad, because I bet that dog misses me.


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