On the Fire Escape

A universe of fascinating little activities reveals itself when I take a sanity break on the fire escape of my building.

 For months, a couple of stuffed animals – some sort of doll and a monkey-type thing – lay abandoned on the roof of the garage. Mysteriously, they would change positions, move about to another spot. One day, the doll disappeared. Then the monkey-thing ended up splayed on the driveway. I threw it back up on the roof, curious to see where it’d end up next. He was quiescent for a couple of days, then I noticed just his feet sticking out from the mound of ivy that had invaded part of the roof. Then the feet disappeared. I imagine them both disemboweled of their stuffing by some curious rodent. I kinda miss ‘em.

 Another afternoon, two birds alighted on the neighbor’s telephone wire, resting a few inches apart. Slowly they slid toward each other, turning their beaks, almost touching, as if sharing a secret. Do birds have secrets? There were no other creatures close enough to hear. They, or a couple like them, resumed the position yesterday.

 A calico cat massages her back on the pea gravel covering the garage roof. I spoke to her gently once, asking her if she was enjoying herself. She peered at me, and I distinctly heard a soft “yes.” I’m not so crazy (yet) to assume the cats have found voice (though I might have missed this development in the avalanche of information each day.) I did, however, find it reassuring that my otherwise uncommunicative neighbors had found sweet voice via their feline.

 The squirrels maraud through my potted plants to bury acorns. A brazen raccoon (is there any other kind in the city?) conducts regular night pillages of the local garbage cans. Wandering young men rummage in the recycle bins at dawn, crushing their aluminum booty, that peculiar metallic noise precluding any further sleep. I’ve thought to ask them to make their rounds a bit later, but …

It’s endless summer here in Oakland. We need rain bad. Rationing on the near horizon. 

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