comforting things

Although I cannot classify my neighbors as hoarders, they accumulate things in the backyard. The former political refugees, who came to Australia some 30 years ago, own both their house and the one we are renting. They have smartly rearranged the back of the two houses so that they get full access to both “yards” while we and our downstairs neighbors have patio space only. This extra free space has allowed them to move in a train car and various other storage units, dog houses, water tanks, sheds and planting areas in the back.

Last weekend a new bird cage suddenly appeared in the back. I felt vaguely happy for their caged cockatoos — who make me sad, amused, and annoyed — even though they’re apparently well-adapted to their environment. The new cage sat in the back and I wondered if it had been a deal too good to pass up and how long it would sit there before being put to use.

Not long at all, it turns out. By Sunday there was a Galah parrot living in the cage. More sad feelings – Galah’s are my current favorite wild parrot in the area. Now my neighbors’ menagerie includes 2 rotweilers, 3 bichon frisés, 2 sulphur-crested cockatoos and 1 galah (not to mention the son, daughter-in-law, and three grand-daughters who live with them).

This whole experience of watching things accumulate in the backyard is all too familiar. There are about 12 ladders of only three different sizes piled up in the back yard, and this makes sense to me. But I’m probably projecting from my own experience of watching my father find deal after deal too good to pass up  because the neighbors do use the various things for projects. Everything is relatively neatly stacked and stored, even if it looks a bit like a trash heap. Nonetheless, there’s a strange kind of comfort in watching someone store away quality pieces they’ve accumulated just in case they might need them later.


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