We live in a pastoral little hamlet, Widdle Baby and I.
If you walk out our front door, you can inhale the sweet summer fragrance of honeysuckle and American Beauty roses in bloom. Turn to the left and enjoy the smell of fresh-cut pine from the cabinet-maker’s shop. Tilt your head a little to the right and inhale the delicious aroma of chicken frying down at the BP station.
Oh, and straight ahead, you’ll smell horse poop. The unmistakable scent of fresh horse poop. In a pile. On the sidewalk. In front of our home.
We do not own a horse.
I’ve often said that all our village needs to be picture-perfect is a vicar, and perhaps a sewing circle whose members solve murders when not stitching quilts and sipping sherry. There is charm aplenty here, from cottages set amid pastures populated with goats to sun-dappled logging trails through old-growth forest. There are hedges and iron gates, and oak trees shading colorful Victorian houses. We even have llamas and mini donkeys. Yes, the “aaawwww!” factor is high. And so is the smell coming from the sidewalk.
Did I mention we don’t own a horse?
Lots of other residents do. Men, women and children ride merrily down the main road and the paved side streets. Often —because a 1,500 pound horse can’t win against a two-ton SUV – they ride on the sidewalk. In all these places the horses relieve themselves when the urge strikes, because no-one has ever successfully toilet-trained a horse.
On my daily wog (walk/jog), I often dodge puddles or piles. It’s embarrassing to know that this is what passersby and visitors see at first glance.
Then one day last week Widdle came home and said, “Come and look at this.”
I thought maybe he’d brought home a new puppy, but no.
“This” was the aforementioned pile, smack in the middle of the sidewalk and stinking to high heaven.
“That’s just wrong,” he said, and rubbed his chin. (Widdle rubbing his chin is like another man screaming and waving his arms.) “A police officer is up at the Subway,” he said. “I think I’ll speak to him.”
Of course I tagged along, even though I was wearing Widdle’s old black boxer shorts, because A) I have no shame and B) I’m nosy as hell.
Widdle very politely stated his case, pointing out that the fragrant pyramid blighted both our property and the town. The officer nodded gravely.
“I think I know whose horses did that,” he said. “I’ll go have a word.” And off he drove.
I was thrilled and impressed. And also embarrassed, when I realized what my mother would say about being in the presence of the po-po wearing black boxer shorts. In the end, however, that turned out not to matter.
Five days later, the Pile of Shame is still there.
What I’d like to do is go out with a shovel under cover of night and make a very special delivery in someone’s mailbox. But Widdle is a peaceable man. In fact, he’d never mention that he’s one of the town officials who helped get the sidewalks built, years ago.
Widdle’s father was a councilman. His brother was mayor. Widdle himself served two terms on council. He wouldn’t tell that to anyone now in authority, because that’s not how he rolls. It’s just a shame, is what it is.
And did I mention that we don’t own a horse?
Julie R. Smith, who cleans up after her 15-pound dog, can be reached at email@example.com.