Question: Can you hear a peacock’s screech over the roar of city buses?
Question: What’s a peacock doing in city traffic?
Answer: No zoning laws keep him out.
He and Mrs. Peacock live in the bottom floor of an old house and also use its front yard. They share their quarters with a Tom Turkey who replies, “gobble-gobble” when you whistle at him. The owners live in the top half of the house. Well-to-do people live on all sides.
The kids in the block think it’s a great arrangement. The adults think the lack of zoning laws makes their area into a real neighborhood, more convenient, more friendly and safer. For instance, the butcher who occupied a rented garage five years ago sells much better meat than the local supermarket. Same goes for the couple who opened a small cheese and creamery store. A few blocks this way, a few blocks that way, and we have what we need: shoe repairs, locksmiths, small restaurants, drug stores, you name it. You see the same faces time and time again and finally exchange pleasantries.
The merchants in these little stores have tons of personality and a good memory for faces. You see it in their eyes, right away, if they recognize you. They learn your preferences. The butcher will put a cut of meat aside for you if you call him early. The guy at the creamery, or his wife, will get in some of your favorite requesón cheese, special order. Lots of smiles, little jokes, some family talk. It’s a better way to live and it’s true that their produce and fruit are more recently picked than at the big places.
Our supermarket takes an annoying five minutes in the car to get there – so we only go once a week. Going to Wal-Mart is like going to the Moon – ten minutes by car – and we only go there in cases of dire necessity, perhaps every two months.
The “safety” feature of the neighborhood lies in its continual foot traffic until 9 PM or 10 PM. The local doctors maintain late hours, the pharmacy is open 24 hours, the Mexican penchant for “cena” about 8 PM leads people to taco stands and small restaurants, evening mass is well attended, and above all is the fact that most evenings are so pleasant it makes whole families want to get out and take a walk.
Taverns, cement plants, high-rise office buildings and other undesirables are kept out by the “colonos” – the neighborhood association which has the legal power to do so.
But keep out peacocks?