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Looking For Serenity

Sitting on a sofa

On a Sunday afternoon.

Going to the candidates' debate.

Laugh about it,

Shout about it,

When you get to choose,

Every way you look at it you lose.

— Paul Simon

* * *

It's light out though the sun has yet to pop through the horizon. The nuthatches and chickadees greet me as they visit the two birdfeeders a few feet from one of the kitchen windows. There are a few cardinals feeding on the ground underneath the feeders, their speech a reproach: tch, tch, tch.

I'm enjoying the peace and quiet. It won't last.

The frequency of flights to and from nearby EWR has increased and the altitude of the planes decreased. Often the house shakes from their thunder.

And my new neighbor has decided to cut down the three huge trees on his property.

I've tried to dissuade him by explaining that each tree absorbs and stores a hundred gallons of water and provides a day's supply of oxygen for four people; and they provide housing for chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and woodpeckers. But Carlos wants space for his family--an ample back yard for barbecues and soccer games with his kids, and a nice lawn in front of the house.

For the last eight days the chainsaws have been shrieking from 9:00 a.m. until 6 p.m.. It's horrendous and perhaps a microcosm of what is to come in March.

Roselle's vile, corrupt town council has voted to level the woods across from my house to build a community center, swimming pool, and a new school complex. The woods are three blocks long, one block deep, and contain about 200 trees. I have nightmares about the noise of tractors, bulldozers, trucks, pneumatic drills, chain saws, and wood pulverizers as well as the concomitant fumes, and dust, the destruction of a habitat for birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, raccoons, possums, deer, and at least one family of foxes.

Their decision is being resisted, but things do not look good.

There's been no environmental impact report although one had been promised; there are no plans for modernizing infrastructure, so there's the worry about flooding.

Roselle's sewage system was built by the Etruscans. A few years ago, my basement flooded repeatedly during extended heavy rainstorms because the sewers were backed up. I had to spend thousands of dollars to clean and disinfect the cellar and to install a large sump pump as well as a stop valve. I still need to buy a generator because if there's an extended power outage, I'm screwed.

I have some savings and a move to someplace else is possible. But I'm seventy-one and starting over would not be as easy as it was when I moved to Philadelphia at the ages of 25, or to Spain when I was 30.

I don't believe in gods, but often recite the serenity prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

The problem is that category 1 is increasing.

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