I can remember pleasant, warm summer nights, spent with my mother, plodding down Great Northern Road on Tiny and Cricket, respectively. We'd saddle up at the main farm, head north on Boyer, turn on to the back road (now known as Woodland Drive) remark about the tiger lilies growing in the ditches along our woods or maybe check out the dewberry supply.
On those evening rides, we might go to the rodeo grounds on Baldy Road or up Robinson's road, which, in those days, ended at the Robinson's farm (now Crooked Lane subdivision). Sometimes, we'd go across the railroad tracks to the Upper Tibbs place and visit with my dad, Harold, who might be sitting in his pickup, smoking a roll-yer-own or two or three while looking down over the family spread.
We never worried much about the horses' safety because most folks driving through understood horses and respected our space as we enjoyed our evening's ride. Occasionally, a car would come behind us, slow down for the horses and carefully pass by---or, if it was a Gooby or one of the Watts family, we'd all hang there in the middle of the road for a neighborly gabfest.
Events last Friday night signaled another major hint that the pastoral has probably long since passed in this neighborhood. If it hasn't, the flame of those peaceful times remains but a flicker. On Friday night, there was hot pursuit by the law in my lifelong neighborhood, and it was intense.
I had invited myself to dinner with the Colburn family because Bill had gone to a meeting in Coeur d'Alene. He wouldn't be home until at least 11, so I didn't want to spend the evening all by myself. It was also Friday night at the end of a long week, and my sisters didn't want to stay awake much past the weekly taco salad gathering at their home. So, I planned to eat and run before they all nodded off in front of the TV.
The Olympics were about to come on at 8 p.m. when I pulled out of their driveway and headed home. Once on to Boyer, I spotted flashing lights near the infamous corner where I used to rob the mailboxes at age 5. A cop had pulled off the road at a funny angle and had walked a couple of hundred feet ahead to talk to a lady in an SUV.
I didn't think much of this until I pulled on to the back road where those tiger lilies still grow. As I reached the open fields to the west, I spotted a car racing southward on the dirt road paralleling the railroad tracks. Nearing the corner of Woodland Drive and Great Northern Road, I could see it was another cop car, which turned my direction and hastily headed back toward Boyer.
While traveling Great Northern, I met two more police cars and deduced that someone must've escaped from the jail or the juvie detention center over on Boyer. This has happened a few times before, but the only way we've figured it out is to see all the white cars zipping back and forth, occasionally flashing their lights. We also have a police scanner, which confirms our visual suspicions.
For three hours, as I sat alone in my house with the big living room windows, I watched teams of cop cars glide past, slow down, turn in to railroad path along the wooded area across from our driveway, hunker down at the northwest corner of our property, or head back and forth with their spot lights shining into the bushes. The scanner didn't reveal much except that someone dropped their shoes along the way. It was zero outside, so someone was pretty desperate and probably had cold feet.
I was afraid to go outside to get the keys from my car. I was afraid to go to bed because Bill was still coming home, and it wouldn't be nice to lock him out in the cold. I was dismayed through the entire evening that, with all that action a few feet from my house, not one cop car came in to notify me that someone had escaped or to please be on the look-out. So, I sat in my glass house, surrounded by law officers, feeling far from safe.
Eventually, Bill came home, brought both sets of keys into the house and locked the doors. This morning I read in the paper that the police were chasing not one but two escapees---young women who'd been arrested on drug charges, one of whom eventually punched a cop when they later tracked the pair down in Trestle Creek, which is 15 miles away. I guess I should feel safe now, knowing they've put them in another jail 45 miles down another road.
But, when I consider the once peaceful road where Mother and I enjoyed those many memorable summer evenings aboard our beloved horses many moons ago, when I consider last fall's murder/drug scene one quarter mile to the south, when I know that a convicted sexual offender lives to the north, and when I reflect on this most recent three-hour pursuit of shoeless meth addicts virtually outside my window, I think it's time to say good bye to the idyllic life that has kept me in this little area for so long.
Where once car drivers met horseback riders and stopped for a friendly roadside chat, the horses and their riders dare not go. And, nowadays, cars gather all too often along our road to catch the criminals. The innocence has passed. Not a pleasant thought. Times have definitely changed in the neighborhood.