Woody the Alpaca

Woody the alpaca has moved in next door to our home.  We northernmost Shoreline Lancasters live next to a storm water retention pond.  This time of year, the pond grounds are fervent with dandelions, new growth brambles, and hip-high grasses.  Once or twice a year, a city employee comes to tamp back the exuberance so that the fenced pond does not become a jungle in our midst.  Occasionally, we scale the fence to pick up garbage or do some whacking ourselves.  In 2012, Woody the alpaca has shown us weed control done by a professional.  Woody has pared back all the grasses and weeds.  The camelid does not prefer woody materials, but pulls the leaves from the brambles, leading to their retreat and demise.  I hear Woody has companions, goats and sheep, at other ponds who eat the tougher stems.  These friends will soon arrive to finish Woody’s job.  Woody’s patient munching has left the pond grounds clad in a short green carpet, one that brings to mind lush groomed expanses of pastoral Swiss meadows.  I do not know what the City of Shoreline is paying for this Andean pack animal experiment, but it is a bargain.  We Lancasters much prefer Woody’s humming and little piles of highly-digested llama poo to the cantankerous hornet’s nest of mixed gas-oil engines and sometimes-neglected overgrowth.

Do not think that Woody is just a happy replacement for weed-eaters.  Woody is a phenom.  Parents bring their children by the scores.  Teens stop their incessant social jockeying to say hello to the rented alpaca.  I even saw one adolescent put down his smart phone (for only a moment).  Walkers eat their granola bars in Woody’s company.  All the dogs want a sniff of him.  Woody gives us something to talk about with strangers.  He boosts us Shoreliners over the “who-are-you-and-why-are-you-talking-to-me” hurdle.  Woody is no dull cud-chewer.  When people come to visit, Woody often stops browsing and comes to greet them.  He has made himself a neighbor, a welcome one.

Woody may be a bit lonely.  The alpaca and our little dog, Sofie, have built a bond.  I read that alpacas are herd animals.  I am told that Woody has a bit of an attitude with other animals, due to testosterone overload.  Perhaps Woody should run for Congress.  Woody beds down just outside our television room’s window, where he rolls in the dust and watches the sound and fury of Shoreline hurtle past.  When bored, Woody watches television with us through the window, as the sun goes down and it grows difficult to see the grass.  We think Woody prefers Downton Abbey, from among our NetFlix CDs.  We could be wrong.

To the persons who conceived and authorized this experiment in drubbing Shoreline’s weeds, congratulations.  Genius.  Pure genius.  Thanks for making life a little bit better in Shoreline.