Mr. Jim Sperber
Code Enforcement Director/Building Inspector
25 Green St., Ipswich, MA 01938
Dear. Mr. Sperber:
I am sorry. I really am. I don’t know what to say. It’s not my fault. It’s not my doing. But it happened again.
Last week, on Thanksgiving morning, as I’m sure you know, all of us here in Ipswich awoke to a thick layer of wet, gloppy snow. (Of course, if you were off visiting relatives in Palm Beach, or Arkansas, or wherever Sperbers come from, you might not have gotten the weather report. Yeah: we had a little snow.)
But my family and I awoke to something more than just snow. Much more. Something marvelous and beautiful, but also a little frightening — and, I fear, totally illegal.
I repeat: Not my fault.
There was a magnificent snowperson standing in our yard.
It was a work of art, a thing of beauty. The three globes of snow comprising the snow-statue were full of dead brown leaves fallen from my four majestic pin oaks, but not in a sloppy didn’t-pick-the-leaves-out way; these were artistically arranged dead brown pin-oak leaves. This was the kind of dead brown pin-oak leaf design that could start a whole new trend in snowperson fashion. By next winter, every snowperson in America could be wearing a classy coat of dead brown pin-oak leaves.
And on the snowperson’s head was a stunning crown of evergreen branches, looking for all the world like an homage to the Statue of Liberty. It was wondrous, truly, an inspiration. I couldn’t decide whether to salute, drop to one knee, or apply for a green card.
Mr. Sperber, I trust that my report of this snowperson is not old news to you. I realize it’s possible that you were cruising our neighborhood on Thanksgiving morning, as building inspectors traditionally do, seeking out backyard deck stairs without handrails and people using the holiday to put up unauthorized tool sheds. In which case, I’m sure you saw the snowperson for yourself. And I’m sure you immediately took note that there was no neon-glow-colored Ipswich building permit attached to the construction project, and never had been. I promise you, I was as horrified as you. The moment I saw the snowperson, I searched my property for evidence of compliance with Ipswich’s famed regulatory regimen. In those panicky moments, I was hoping against hope to find an official form nailed to a nearby tree, or duct-taped to the snowperson’s butt.
But no. This was an unauthorized, unregulated, unpermitted undertaking.
And I am sorry to say, it’s not the first time this has happened. When my family and I first moved to Ipswich, and the first snow fell, we awoke to find not only the traditional New England blanket of snow, but a family of five fabulous snowpeople standing around in our backyard. It was a wonderful surprise, a charming welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift, from our thoughtful-though-anonymous neighbors. We were delighted. But of course, also aghast. Because there was not a single piece of official Town of Ipswich paperwork to be found on the entire display. It was evident that Town Planner Glenn Gibbs had not signed off on this. Nor had Public Health Director Colleen Fermon checked these snowpeople for proper cooking temperature, or confirmed their potential burden on the septic system. Every one of these large, heavy snowpeople had been structurally engineered without structural engineer Eric Colville, your intrepid assistant, anywhere to be seen. We were at serious risk, and didn’t even know it.
Mr. Sperber, I just want to assure you that, while undocumented snowpeople are mysteriously appearing on my property, my family and I are in no way culpable in the crime. I want to cooperate with the authorities. So if I somehow catch the perpetrators, I will most certainly let you know immediately. While their intentions may be entirely honorable, even charitable — in fact, they may just love us so much, they want to do something fun and nice for us — I understand that you have to do your job. The law is the law.