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Uninvited garden ornaments

When peacocks appeared in the neighborhood, everyone was delighted.

A peacock flaunts its plumage in a neighborhood in Clearwater, Florida.

Douglas R. Clifford/Newscom

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When I stepped outside early this morning, I didn't see a partridge in a pear tree, but I did see a peacock on my front lawn.

I kid you not. There was a large, plump peacock strutting about, pecking around for whatever it is peacocks eat.

I can't say that I was alarmed to see the bird. I live in a very eclectic, if indecorous neighborhood in my corner of Maine. In fact, it is the poorest neighborhood in my town. In the old days – up until about 40 years ago – the residents of my riverine neighborhood were held in disrepute by those up on "the hill" because of the jobs they performed (mostly millwork), the large clutches of children they had, and their reputation for being "rough around the edges."

Things have changed since then, but reputations die hard, especially when it is legal here to have up to three broken-down cars in one's front yard – and given that a couple of my neighbors have availed themselves of this opportunity.

Which brings me back to the peacock. A few years back the owner of a local business built a large, striking home just down the street from me. It was the first house built here in who knows how many decades, and it was a doozy: white cedar with twin garages, an expansive deck and a large, curved picture window over the front door. The whole operation boasted a stunning view of the river. Who would have thought that the owner of such grandeur would be the one to introduce a peacock to our neighborhood?

Actually, the peacock was only the tip of the iceberg. All told, there were also two peahens, three sheep, and a flock of guinea hens. All but the sheep eventually ran off, spreading themselves out among the various backyards, like a wealth that was meant to be shared.

The thing is, my neighbors don't put much stock in appearances, and not one of them squawked about the sudden effusion of exotic livestock. Everyone thinks it's great.


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