Random Read

Good Neighbors {excerpt}

One Friday in June, our neighbor Rod, who farms the parcel north of us in western Wisconsin, pounded on our door. Just back from a run, I was stretching on a mat. I didn’t want to get up, but when I did, I was glad to see Rod on our stone walkway. We had always enjoyed talking, and our visits were too infrequent. Yet that morning, his expression was stern. His cheeks flushed scarlet. He shifted from leg to leg, as if the ground were rippling.

“David there?” he asked.

“I’ll get him. Would you like to come in?”

Rod looked away. “Out here’s fine for me.”

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“The beavers again.”

“We trapped them.”

“Well, they must have come back to life!”

I had never seen Rod angry, or even irritable. If not exactly friends, we’d been friendly since my partner, David, and I moved to the country 11 years ago. We were the kind of neighbors who would help each other out of a ditch, even though we might not call each other first in an emergency. Whenever we met Rod or his wife, Margie, on the road, we stopped and talked. Most often, Rod talked—about his time in the army, the raccoons in his corn, his acres of walnut trees planted as an investment for his children and grandchildren. His demeanor was gentle, his voice as soft and mumbling as a pleasant stream.