What Ralph can live without

Ralph is my neighbor. For fifty years, he has let strangers walk up his driveway to access a trail into the Santa Monica Mountains. Mutt and I walk up his driveway at least four times a week.

When we first moved to this street, Ralph had ducks and chickens and doves in his aviary. Back then, he would come outside every day to feed his birds and to feed their shells to his orange trees. Img_2768

One day, the aviary was empty. His son had come and taken all the birds away to Malibu. Somehow, it had been decided that Ralph couldn’t take care of them anymore. Img_2770_1 When I heard the news I thought, “I would have taken care of them for him.” But then I wondered, are the losses necessary? Is it right to try to stave them off? Or is it better for all of us to find out what we can live without? Even if it is the stuff that makes life worth living?

Most days, Ralph sits at his dining room table and watches me, and all the other strangers, pass him by. I wave to this generous man, and he waves back.


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