Flashing lights crazed an otherwise seamless afternoon: leafing trees flickering in the sunshine, flowering shrubs scenting the air, crooning infants heartening their moms and dads.

Emergency vehicles stopped at the corner bungalow and parked. Doors flipped opened. Firemen fastened their vests and grabbed axes. Paramedics hefted their bags over their shoulders and set up a gurney. Neighbors gawked from the sidewalk.

As I sat in my car, I prayed. For years, I had walked past this bungalow obscured by a distressed ash, an overgrown Chinese elm, and scraggly hedges. Neglect oozed through the papered-over windows, through the broken screens, through the rusty chain-link fence enclosing the backyard tangled with chicory, through the storm door listing on its hinges. No one seemed around—an abandoned house, or so I thought. I continued to pray as I drove home.

Yet, last month’s whirring of the air conditioner in the side yard had given me pause.

Fast forward to this afternoon’s crisis. Help of various kinds was on its way to the occupant, perhaps homeless in his/her own home, or perhaps having transitioned out of here.

The air conditioner was whirring the next morning as I took this photo.


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