"Signs of spring: I am looking at a crocus and a robin in my back yard. Some kind of semi-congealed precipitation, about the consistency of a Slurpee, is falling on them both."
I wrote that paragraph on May 5, 2005. It just goes to show that we really are enjoying an early spring this year.
Well, maybe "enjoying" isn't exactly the term you would choose if, like me, you are looking out your window at the above-mentioned semi-congealed precip. The Inuit probably have a word for this kind of snow.
We all knew, really, that after an almost snowless winter, snow would be falling on us in April. After experiencing summer in March, with 80-degree days and sunshine, it does come as something of a shock, but then that's the Adirondacks for you. Our weather is usually unusual.
Last week, after I wrote about the quiet nights in Keene Valley, I remembered that a few years ago we actually did experience a crime wave.
Do you remember the baby buggy burglaries?
According to talk around town, a couple with a young child moved to Keene. After dark, they used to steal from unlocked automobiles in the Keene hamlets, often pushing an innocent-looking perambulator which probably came in handy for stashing loot. I don't know whether the baby was along for the ride during these jaunts or not. Sometimes they lucked out and got their hands on guns and money.
Most people who live here don't think to lock their cars when they're in their own driveways. One woman, according to local lore, withdrew $1,000 from the bank for Christmas shopping and left it in her glove box overnight. Happy holidays, baby buggy burglars!
I think one or both of them ransacked my Ford Taurus one night. The front seats had been moved back and there was a Camel filter cigarette butt in the driveway just outside the driver's side door. It didn't occur to me at the time it might be evidence of anything other than someone I knew wandering over from the bar next door to take a nap in my car. I hadn't learned about the thefts yet. If anything was taken from my Taurus I never missed it.
From what I heard around town later, the young man involved in the thefts used to drive a light blue car, until police stopped him; something about a suspended driver's license, I think. They didn't nab him for theft on that occasion, but the loss of transportation substantially cut back his field of operation. It was after that he relied so heavily on the baby buggy and kept his activities to a circumscribed area in Keene. I heard that on one occasion he broke into a home whose owner was away, where he stole toys and used the bath tub, causing the pipes to later freeze and burst.
People considered pushing a baby buggy around town in the wee hours of the morning to be suspicious, behavior. This was a flaw in the plan that the couple clearly had not dealt with satisfactorily. Still, he did all right for months, longer than you'd think, before being apprehended by police.
When the police caught up with him, he had just started a job at the bob sled run in Lake Placid. What a shame. Given legal employment, he might have abandoned his life of crime and gone straight.
I doubt it, though.
Some theft victims got their stolen merchandise back after the arrest. The baby buggy burglars left Keene, although beyond that I don't know what happened to them. I have often wondered whether their case ever went to trial. Do you know? This is a story that was never picked up by any of the local media, and I think it is still worth pursuing.
I would guess that most people here once again leave their cars, and even their homes, unlocked, even though for a short time, during the baby buggy burglaries, we were more vigilant. We take it for granted that we live in a place that is as safe and neighborly as it is wild and beautiful - and, for the most part, we do.
Even if there is still slush on top of my car. Even if the meteorologists will not commit to a day when the temperature will rise above 46 degrees.
Let me know if you have information about the baby buggy burglars, and have a good week.