When Paige Mengel found herself at home recently, a deer stopped by to dine on the acorns in her back yard.

A typical day for me involves leaving my house for some reason, either to go to work or to participate in some activity. I know things happen at my house while I’m away, though, because I enjoy the results when I return.

There’s mail in the mailbox and a newspaper in the Greeneville Sun box, and sometimes there’s a package on the porch. On trash day, we put our bags of refuse in the trash can, wheel it down to the street and leave it. When we get back home that evening, it’s empty. Poof, just like that.

I carry limbs and trimmed brush to the edge of the yard and put them in a neat pile, and I rake leaves into bigger piles near the street, and then one day I come home from work, and they’re gone. It’s Public Works magic.

Feral cats that we feed (and get fixed when we can catch them) when we leave in the mornings are usually there in the evening waiting to be fed again. I’ve never really given much thought to what they do or where they go in between those feedings. I’ve seen evidence of them walking on my car at night, but I don’t know about the daytime.

I recently had the occasion to spend a couple of weeks at home and I couldn’t help but notice all the activity that goes on when I’m normally away. We live on a dead-end street with only six houses, but my little neighborhood was a veritable hotbed of activity during the day. Who knew?

I watched the mail and the newspaper delivery folks make their rounds. It was during the two weeks prior to Christmas, so I saw UPS and FedEx drive up and leave packages, things ordered from all over and delivered to our front doors.

I saw one neighbor’s child dropping off their grandchild in the mornings and then picking the little one up again in the evening. Another neighbor had a home health nurse making regular visits.

I watched another neighbor, who obviously cares much more about lawn maintenance and leaf removal than I do, fastidiously go over his yard with a lawn mower and a leaf blower. He must think I wouldn’t notice or mind, because he blew some of the leaves from his lawn to ours. He’s right.

Neighbors from the next street over are regular walkers when it isn’t raining or snowing. One fellow walked his dog, stopping to talk to anyone who was outside while allowing his dog sniff the things that dogs sniff along the way. Another neighbor was a young man walking with his child, who I saw in a stroller during the summer. This time the child was toddling alongside his daddy, his tiny legs taking three steps to dad’s one, holding hands as they went. One lady was obviously walking for exercise. She had earphones and a quicker pace than the others.

I watched the feral cats chase leaves in the yard, attack insects, lounge on the warm sidewalk in the sun. One day three of them decided a garden snake would be a good playmate for a while. They napped a lot, too.

If the cats left any bits of cat food on the porch when they move on to their games, there were three blue jays more than willing to clean up after them. They squawked, rather loudly, to alert each other if a cat comes along looking for the food.

Squirrels particularly enjoyed the big oak tree in the front yard, running around and around its trunk, and then quietly coming down to retrieve acorns while the cats are asleep. A pileated woodpecker apparently lives nearby, because I saw him in the redbud and birch trees multiple times.

The back yard boasts an oak tree as well, and it dropped copious amounts of acorns this year, much to the delight of a deer who visited on multiple occasions to root under the snow and in the leaves I failed to rake to the street. I saw her in the mornings and in the late afternoons, a quiet visitor who stepped from between the trees and perked her ears up at any sound. She paid no mind to the ground hog who emerged from under the deck, hoping to find leftover crabapples in the yard.

It was fascinating to watch these folks and these creatures going about their days and their tasks, oblivious to my presence and observation. I guess that’s what we all do to a large extent. We go about our business and take care of what needs taking care of in our lives, not paying much attention to our surroundings.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to look around for a few days. It’s beautiful out there.

Greeneville native Paige Mengel is a Tusculum College alumna, CPA, arts admirer and Business Coordinator of Greeneville Theatre Guild. A Look Around is published every other Wednesday in Accent. Contact Paige at

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