I was reminded of a funny story this evening when I was out on the porch reading. You’ll see why at the end.
Several weeks ago, I was on the porch and thought I smelled something burning. Not rubber or anything, but leaves. I came in and the children informed me that the next door neighbors (on the other side) were burning something in their back yard. We hadn’t had rain in quite a while at that point and I was a little worried. I went into the back yard to spy through the bushes and noticed their teenage son tending a sizable fire. There were several garbage bags lying around. I remembered that we had noticed that their yard was full of trash when we moved in. Fortunately, the plantings screened it from view. There was a LOT of smoke issuing from the fire and it was all blowing directly at our house. Inside, we started noticing it too since the air conditioner is on that side of the house.
Anyway, I figured it would be done and over with by nightfall and the smell would fade after a day or so.
The next day the same thing happened. On the third day I noticed the breeze on the front porch was lovely and elected to have school out there midmorning. Before long, the smoke was drifting over us and it became unbearable. A car slowed down and stopped outside our house and the occupants looked out of their windows in concern. I yelled to them that our house was fine and that the neighbors were burning leaves. We retreated inside, muttering in annoyance. Father came home and remarked on the clouds of smoke. I crept out in the back yard again, checking on the fire and noticed the boy pick up a garbage bag of goodness-knows-what and plunk it in the middle of the fire. I also didn’t fail to notice the can of gasoline sitting within a few feet of the flames.
I came back in and reported my findings while Father peered out of the kitchen windows. I said I was sick of it and didn’t they have to have a permit to burn in the city limits? He didn’t know. I said that it was pretty dry out there and there was a lot more to burn from what I could see. Father looked on the internet to see if there was a city ordinance about burning permits. I was getting rather impatient and said, just call the fire department. We looked up the number since strictly speaking it wasn’t an emergency. Father got on the phone and they said they’d send someone around to check.
We elected to stay inside out of view so the neighbors wouldn’t suspect we were the ones who called. The children kept lining up by the windows to watch for the fire truck. I told them it would not be coming with lights and sirens. After about five minutes, the fire truck came down the street and parked in front of our house. I worried out loud that they would think we were the ones burning trash. Father said it was pretty obvious where it was coming from given the massive clouds of smoke. Sure enough, they disappeared down the side of the house towards the neighbors’ back yard. We all ran around to the kitchen and craned our necks. The fire was burning merrily and the boy was no where in sight. One of the firemen moved the gas can. We aren’t sure what exactly happened after that, but the fire was out shortly and it hasn’t been an issue again.
They turned on the lights as they left. The children were thrilled.
Now, for the reason why I remembered this: As I mentioned above, I was out on the porch reading (These High Green Hills by Jan Karon (Mitford series)) and I heard an engine coming that sounded somewhat louder than usual. I looked up and saw the fire truck coming, out for its evening run. I smiled and as they drove by our house, they played Shave and a Haircut on the horn.
I just love small towns.