When the first police car pulled up, I didn’t pay much attention. By the time several more rescue vehicles were parked on my small-town street, lights flashing and sirens muted, I was somewhere between curious and concerned.

They were there, it turned out, because my neighbor had died.

Dan spent almost all of his time outside, often with his grandsons nipping at his heels. He spent most of his life on this street, labored for the local Public Works department for nearly five decades, worked the landfill, plowed roads, did whatever needed to be done. He might have been a follower of Thoreau, if he knew or gave much of a damn who Thoreau was; he travelled a good deal in this pseudo-Concord. He had a passel of brothers and sisters, he told me once, some of whom had lit out for faraway places. But he had stayed put, raising his family in the house across the street from the one where he grew up.