Breaking the Rules

Since we moved into an  ‘adult community’ we’ve come under the ‘benevolent’ authority of a Home Owners Association. The people who run the HOA are those who want to do it–sort of like those who run for president; why would anyone want the job? Those who could do it well usually know better than to get involved.

I’ve tried to ‘grin and bear it.’ It’s still better than doing it myself and lately–do you believe in miracles?– they have been improving. And they let me make fun, even in their own newletter. For instance the piece below.

Black Ice

“What is it?” Ruth asked.

It was early winter, in Boston, so long ago that Ruth and I had been married for only one year—I was finishing grad school—and we were headed home, to our first apartment, in the old VW.

“I’m on the lookout for black ice,” I replied, hunched over the steering wheel, eyes straight ahead.

“It’s fifty degrees outside,” Ruth said.

Sometimes I hate science.

I was reminded of this incident—a Ruth favorite, by the way—a few days ago, while on the walking trail on a fine, bright, mid-November Sunday morning with the temperature hovering around sixty.

It’d been weeks since Ruth and I had gone for a walk. We’d built up to two or three walks a week in late summer—only the one mile circuit—usually at dusk, when the temperature had cooled some. We enjoy walking the path: admiring patios and plantings, greeting people—some we know, some we don’t—and waving at passing cars.

“Who was that?”

“No idea,” I answer Ruth, while waving. I have enough trouble recognizing people, let alone their cars.

We often spy hawks—gliding in easy circles—and deer, as many as a dozen, grazing at the edge of the tree farm. And of course, clustered around the pond, geese, our own illegals.

That Boston incident took place forty years ago. It came to mind because the HOA Board closed the walking trail until April; for our protection—in case of snow, black ice, or wet leaves—and here I was, not only breaking the law, but aiding and abetting as well.

I suppose it makes sense—if nothing else as a reminder of dangers—but mostly, I presume, as protection against law-suits. Sometimes the Board acts as our surrogate parents, offering advice on ways to prevent deer or ant damage. But the walkway gets muddy and slippery after rains, so one can fall and break a leg anytime of year.

The decision to walk in the closed path might seem rebellious and, while I remain an iconoclast, I didn’t mean to defy authority, not on this issue. But the one mile loop up the Keenan cul de sac, across Sydney by the carriage mail boxes and then turning south, past the pond, the geese and around the club house, is just about right.

Ruth said nothing although her face betrayed surprise that instead of my usual ratty sweatpants and old polo shirt I dressed in jeans, white Tee and leather jacket.

We saw neither deer nor hawks, only about two dozen geese huddled at the far shore of the pond.

I turned my head when I heard a noise. Ruth turned too.

“What were you looking at?” She asked.

“I thought the walking trail police might be after us.”

“If I were you,” Ruth said, “I’d worry more about stepping on goose s__t.”

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