Barry Smith: Irrelativity
It’s 3 a.m., my neighbor’s dog is on a barking rampage, and I just can’t freakin’ stand it. I understand that people have real problems and that this situation hardly counts as a tragedy. But we all have our little “things,” right? Our little things that we are convinced the world would be better without? For me, I see absolutely nothing good about a dog barking at night.This particular dog has been at it for a few nights now. Always starting right around 3 a.m. A few nights ago, I actually got out of bed, put on my clothes, grabbed a flashlight and headed down the road to see if I could determine which house this dog lived in. As soon as I walked out of my door, it stopped barking. It remained silent as I searched down the street, silent while I ambled back home, silent while I got back into bed, right up until the very moment when my head hit the pillow. Then it started in again. Really. No kidding. This dog was obviously raised on bad sit-coms.As it’s been going on for a few nights in a row, I’m now primed for it. With the very first bark, I’m instantly wide awake. And pissed. I’m trying deep-breathing exercises and creative visualization (mostly involving duct tape and the dog’s mouth) and am wondering how to approach my neighbor about this once I figure out which neighbor it is. I’m still relatively new to the neighborhood and don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. There’s a lot of old-timers in my neighborhood, so there’s every chance that this neighbor is a fourth-generation resident. You have to respect these sorts of things in a small town. I don’t want to just move in and start barking out orders. As it were.So here I am in bed, 3:15 now, wide awake, trying to reduce my blood pressure by thinking good thoughts, when I hear a completely different noise outside my window. It’s a far more subtle noise, and even though I’ve never heard it before, I know exactly what it is. It’s the sound of a bear attacking my beehive!I spring out of bed and race down the stairs. I grab the flashlight, fling open the kitchen window and shine the light outside. Sure enough, a medium-size bear has tipped over one of my beehives and is now snuffling and scratching at it, trying to crack it open to get at the many, many pounds of honey that my precious little bees have been making for the past four months.I lean out the window and yell while clapping my hands. It turns to look at me and runs off, taking refuge in the nearby cypress tree. I walk outside to check out the situation. The bear is growling at me from the tree. He’s not happy. The bees are buzzing around their tipped-over house. They’re not happy. I’m standing in my backyard shivering in my underwear. I’m not happy. The only happy one is this equation is the neighbor’s dog, which has continued to bark this whole time. But I didn’t get a sense that it was barking at the bear. More like barking at the air. Barking for the sheer joy that barking surely brings. Sheesh. I hate that dog. The bear eventually left, and I went back to bed.Later that morning, the bees had calmed down enough that I could check out the damage. Some broken comb, some structural trauma. I won’t know for a while just how serious it was, but at least there’s a chance that the queen bee survived and everything will be OK. But this is only because the bear never got inside the box itself. But it would have. Easily. The box lid just rests on top, so about 45 more seconds and the bear surely would have popped it off and decimated the whole hive. A banner night for the bear, a sad end to Barry’s first year as a beekeeper.Now here’s the thing: Ordinarily I would have slept through the whole bear/bee thing, groggily pulling a pillow over my head to block out the ruckus coming from outside. The only reason I have even a single bee left is because I was wide awake and able to react so quickly. And the only reason I was awake was because of the nightly annoyance of my neighbor’s *#&% barking mutt.Sigh …Good dog.
Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.
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