Musings on idyllic days and criminal minds

Ed Smith
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I’ve been wallowing in this beautiful Indian summer day.

It’s 28 C and the sky has a scattered wisp of cloud in an otherwise stainless blue. I think it must be the kind of day Bing Crosby sang about in “Old Buttermilk Sky”.

For the last two nights the temperature has gone down to frost levels, and you’d swear that every single star in the firmament has been visible. The moon has been so clear you keep looking for astronaut footprints in the moon dust.

Or that little guy in the moon who’s fishing with his bamboo rod and bobber while sitting on the corner of the lunar crescent. (It’s one of the Hollywood movie maker’s logos.) I really relate to that little fellow.

My father would say on such Friday nights as we were getting our snares and the makings for our boil-up ready for the next morning, “They’re running tonight, my son,” and my heart would beat just a little faster.

How lucky we were without knowing the half of it.

The days and nights have been idyllic, for the most part, just as memory tells me they were back then when rabbit hunting as a boy with my dad.

Idyllic in other ways as well, now as then. Because for the most part, we aren’t too worried about gunmen with assault rifles in their hands and warped personalities bursting into our schools.

We don’t let our children wander off to the local mall fearing that some crazy will start shooting at them. And while we will never forget the massacre of women students in L’Ecole Polytechnic in Quebec, the potential for that happening again does not occupy our thoughts and our fears day and night.

The first topic in the conversation these days, of course, is always the weather. For the past week or so we have been expressing amazement to each other at how beautiful and warm the days are. But that’s always followed by words to the effect, “And no bombings to worry about here,” or “no shootings in these parts, either.”

That’s said in the same tone we used to use when saying, “And no snakes or coyotes.” We don’t say that anymore, for some reason.

Actually, while that stuff about a lack of terrorism is all true, we may be just a little smug out here in the boondocks about crime in general. The Northeast Avalon hasn’t exactly escaped elements of crime sprees so evident in our neighbors to the south.

Truth is, every once in a while we hear of crimes being committed uncomfortably close to where we are.

The question is, how long can we in rural Newfoundland escape even a small smattering of break-ins, assaults, armed robbery and home invasions?

These things seemed to come with added prosperity, and while we haven’t seen much of the economic boom that the Avalon Peninsula has, would be more than fortunate if we continue to avoid the more negative elements.

At the moment, our criminal class is rather small and relatively unsophisticated.

Don’t mean to put you down, people. You know we love you just as you are. And you’re not nearly as bad as incredibly inept as the criminals we keep hearing about elsewhere.

In Detroit, for example, there was the man who broke into a grocery store to steal lottery tickets and tried to cover the whole thing up by setting the place on fire.

He sprinkled several cans of lighter fluid all over the place. By the time he was finished, the place was fair reeking with fumes and when he struck a match it all went up just like he had planned. Unfortunately, he didn’t plan to have himself go up with it.

But he was certainly focused. The store video shows him in flames, and grabbing a roll of lottery tickets as he runs out. Police simply checked the local burn units until they found him.

You don’t even come close (I’m speaking to our local criminal element now, most of whom read my column regularly) to the woman in Phoenix who tried to steal a car from outside the owner’s home.

He heard the motor revving in the driveway and ran outside to find the would be car thief in his car and trying to drive off. He tore open the door and saw the 19-year-old woman frantically pulling on every lever on the steering column in an effort to put the car in gear.

Seems she was unfamiliar with automatic transmissions and didn’t have a clue about how to engage the gears automatically. The owner hauled her out of the car and held her until police arrived.

I don’t think you have what it takes, boys and girls, to qualify as world-class criminals.

In this last example, two fellows went into a pet store and somehow managed successfully to lift an expensive rare breed of chameleon out of its case.

They realized they needed supplies to care for the animal and went shopping around the store for food, something to keep it in and other little items. One of them decided to pay for these things with his pet shop reward card. The police and employees with the help of the store video put two and two together and arrested him on the spot. The sad news is that the little animal died from the handling.

Yes, we are proud of you local criminals who, compared to your urban counterparts, are nice enough people as criminals go. Don’t ever change.

The fall food fishery, although shorter than it should be by 51 weeks, was good. Fishermen reported seeing an unusual number of sharks in the water which, of course, is where they belong.

So all is relatively mellow out this way. The days are warm and hazy, as Indian summer should be, and the winds are light.

As Ernest Hemingway observed:

“When there are no hurricanes, the hurricane months are the best of all.”

Ed Smith is an author who lives

in Springdale. His email address


Geographic location: Hollywood, Quebec, Northeast Avalon Newfoundland Detroit Phoenix

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