Winds of Change

Early morning construction site, all day roar and whine.
  • Usually summers have passed modestly since retirement, as we spent a lot of time just sitting in our back yard, reading and enjoying birds and flowers.  But not this year.  Our Italian-heritage neighbors have decided they need a piazza in their own yard.  Leveled, paved, cleared of ancient trees and shrubs.  I expect the monumental Michelangelo statue to arrive any day.
  • Since town regulations are honored only in the breach lately, each morning began with vast crews of foreign-language workers and massive amounts of construction noise.  Bulldozers, stone saws, jackhammers _ everything except blasting.  Up to ten trucks on the road in front of our house.  Like living next to an expressway, all day, every day, nearly dawn to dusk.  I had to escape to New York City for some peace and quiet.   And perhaps the most annoying thing is that this family _ if it maintains its usual patterns _ will only use this monument to nouveau-riche futility five or less days a year, when the lawyer in charge can impress his friends.
  • Of course the same horrors happen everywhere.  The Hamptons are a prime example.  America at her strongest defense of private property guarantees that residents such as this will spend a fortune on things that nobody can share, but will continuously vote against any public improvements in the local area.  Lower taxes, they cry, as they pour money into backyard concrete and imported marble which will languish unused forever.
  • Ah, these old people, they complain about everything.

Grasses slowly maturing into autumn colors as high tide swirls.
  • Strong erratic winds under broken purple clouds yesterday, but in spite of strong overnight storms, summer lingers.  People are still wearing shorts and light shirts.  Trees are mostly a jungle green, although salt meadows are half gold, and a few poison ivy leaves show crimson.  Some flights of geese appear to be heading south, although since so many overwinter here now that is not too much of an autumn sign.
  • A few folks complain that the heat remains.  Others are excited to still be able to walk woods, sit on the beach, or in some cases continue to do laps in the salt tide.  Mostly though, everyone is too busy at work or school to pay much attention to the weather.  The old agricultural rhythms die hard.
Sun burns through mist that enchants the most prosaic scenes
  • Heavy fog this morning has not stopped the neighbor’s bulldozers and stone saws, but it does indicate no wind.  Wind and fog rarely exist together, except in social metaphor, when we can easily be buffeted about with change at the same time we are blinded by cultural mist.
  • I grew up with the typical American exceptional belief that we had achieved ultimate human stability.  Things would get better, hard work would gain appropriate riches and fame, the rest of the world must follow us, I could confidently predict what others around me were thinking.  All naïve and innocent balderdash, of course, until it metastasized into current political sloganeering and personal victimhood.  Everyone seems to be truly becoming a rhinoceros _ there goes another one down the street now _ my neighbors metamorphosed overnight.
  • Knowing I will quit the planet fairly soon, I’ve had my share and be somewhat philosophical about stuff.  I can’t affect the world which my grandson will inhabit.  I couldn’t control my own. 
  • And yet, as the winds howl, I maintain faith.  Humans are remarkable, and mostly work together in social situations amazingly well.  I strolled NYC sidewalks Monday, amazed at how well everyone gets along.  I am amazed that our own culture is so little filled with actual violence.  There can be hope.  But sometimes the gales blow fierce, and all seems lost, and I worry if the storm will ever end.

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