Corporal Acts of Mercy

Another snowy day in the Duchy.
Being very laid back, we in the Duchy don’t enforce all that border-crossing nonsense, but if you visit, you know immediately that you’re in a different space.
For one thing, our hierarchy is upside down. The nobility—and by that I mean me—seem to spend an inordinate amount of time clearing drains and uncovering fire hydrants. This isn’t because I’m particularly nice; in fact, I’m a curmudgeon, always grumbling about the neighbor who lets his dog defecate on my property. That blasted spaniel is indiscriminate about where he goes. Last month he went right in the middle of our front walk. My assistant managed to pick it up on her shoe and track it through my house, forcing us to stop working and wash all the hardwood floors. But I digress.
The Duchy has a resident saint and she frequently drags me along on her acts of mercy. Mary has lived in the Duchy for her entire life, so she knows everyone. She has a tender heart. I do not, but I go along with her schemes because they’re always more interesting than whatever I was supposed to be doing.
Winter snowsquall in the Duchy. 6X8, oil on canvas, Carol L. Douglas
“Number 178 is being cased by a burglar in an old silver sedan,” Penny the Ducal Mailperson announced yesterday. “Two feet of snow in the driveway and a package in the door for days; it’s obvious that nobody’s home.” Because Mary fixes things, Penny handed her a slip of paper with the license plate number on it.
A portrait of the artist as a maintenance guy.
The easiest solution was to shovel out Number 178 to make it look less abandoned.  The average house in the Duchy has 30 feet of front walk, 50 feet of sidewalk, and 120 feet of tarmac that starts about 10 feet across and widens to a parking area in the back. Only a zealot (me) ever shovels this by hand. Nobody who is not dead lets it build up, especially when Mother Nature is furiously showering down snow. It packs in like concrete.
An hour into our Herculean labors, we saw a commercial plow come down the street. “Let’s pay him to finish this,” we instantly agreed. Ripping off her hat and shaking out her gleaming blonde hair, Mary flashed a bit of very shapely leg at him to get his attention. He trundled on.
Mother Nature is just in one of those moods.
“Boy, was thatever a kick in the ego,” she grumbled.
“I think you’re supposed to remove some of the twelve layers you’re wearing,” I pointed out.
Today Number 178 was snowed in again. There were footprints around the house and garage, as if someone was peering in the windows. Again we shoveled, and then we called the police.
Bad parking job.
The irony? That’s the neighbor whose dog messes on my property.  And that’s why Mary is a saint: nobody else could have gotten me to do that.

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