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Country alarm clock has suspicious ring in suburban setting

Published February 16, 2007


The funny thing was, it wasn't that early.

I was already disassembling the newspaper the first time I heard the rooster. We must be getting old, I thought. Up before the roosters.

Same thing the second day. "Sounds pretty close," my husband said over coffee.

There had to be a back story. A rooster in a deed-restricted subdivision?

I could make assumptions about the owners' heritage. Racist assumptions, I realized sheepishly. Plenty of my contemporaries are Latin American. And they don't bring roosters to suburbia.

The crowing was sweet, melodic, smile-inducing. So much nicer than the tinny old clock radio that signaled the start of yet another wash-the-dishes, pay-your-bills workday.

But somewhere out there, a night-shift worker would have a righteous grievance.

And there was the law, boiler-plate in our homeowner deeds.

No. Barnyard. Animals.

In the days to come I would wonder about Mr. Rooster.

Yes, I had weightier matters to consider. For starters: my career, Junior's social studies project and, as always, soccer.

So the rooster was a diversion. Just a little bit exotic. Just a little bit romantic.

Over the weekend it was fodder for fence-line conversations.

Can you believe that rooster out back? It's really upsetting my dog.

Uh ... yes. What are those people thinking?

We speculated, while raking leaves, about its origins.

Had a rooster-lover kept it, then set it loose when the deed restriction people busted him?

Had the bird then nested in someone's tree?

Was somebody now harboring this feathered fugitive? Perhaps a family whose children played with my own children?

Given the dynamic, there was little to be gained by taking sides. Roosters come and go. But neighbors, they stay put.

Sure, there were good reasons for antirooster rules and, in fact, county ordinances. Namely, the noise.

But was that rooster any worse than my own dog, who barked at all hours? Or the cat down the street, which set off my dog's midnight barking as it strolled past our window?

Then again, you had to wonder: Was this bird part of a cockfighting ring? What would be next, a longhorn steer?

And what about all those dues we paid to the homeowners association? Didn't they entitle us to, let's be honest, the illusion of middle-class respectability? There was talk of trapping the rooster, removing the nuisance once and for all.

I put down my rake and walked away.

Monday morning came, cold and rainy. I hit the snooze button. Again. Then again. I stumbled downstairs to a well-rested Labrador. It was gloomily silent outside.

The law, it seemed had prevailed.

Under gray skies, a new week had begun.

[Last modified February 15, 2007, 08:30:56]

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