There are plenty of places I wouldn’t walk alleys . You know , the places that are dirty and dangerous . I’m not engaged in any social science research requiring me to take risks . I’m not interested in interacting with derelicts , druggies , robbers , thugs , hookers , or wandering hooligans as I stroll along . The worst I’ve encountered in Arcadia are madly active clucking squirrels and an occasional skittering raccoon , their long sharp nails scratching along concrete curbs in hasty retreat . Well , two or three times lost bears , also , come down from the nearby hills . They are most likely looking for a hot tub ( local bears love hot tubs ! ) or dog food hors d’oeuvres . The bears are usually wise enough , or fastidious enough , though , to stay out of the alleys and to stick to the roads .
One day I’ll , no doubt , come upon a day-dreaming bear climbing out of one of the alley dumpsters as I pass . That will be a whole new ballgame . Let’s see ……..with a grizzly ( none in CA since the 1800s ) you just curl up , play dead , and pray . But with a black bear you make yourself as big as possible , hold your arms up , back away slowly . Make noise ; but try not to be annoying . And , I guess , pray . Oh yeah , and try NOT to place yourself between the momma bear and her cubs . Oh , and bears , according to Forest Service signs , don’t like dogs ; so , sorry , if you’re walking a dog……………..
I noticed , in a few spots along our alleys , someone has planted flowers . For me and other alley walkers ? How nice ! Usually , the alley plantings are desperate and lonely hobo plants , able to get by without much care or affection , with food and drink coming only intermittently . Some of them show it , clearly barely surviving , and others maintain a respectability front ; they manage to hide any outward effects of destitution or dereliction .
Generally , the Arcadia alleys , so far , are still navigable . Trash barrels and dumpsters still line up every day , waiting for their weekly visit from the grumbling trash truck . Everything seems in order in this alley world . No mess ; no stress . Sure , there’s a little neglect evident here and there . Let’s mark that down as a bonus , a functional trade off , the price of some extra privacy and independence , an acceptable cost of being left in peace .