Over Easy: Gripes of spring

For the Valley News
Published: 5/14/2022 6:33:01 AM
Modified: 5/14/2022 6:31:12 AM

I don’t know about you, but sometimes this time of year when the sun and the warmth are just so, I momentarily find myself with nothing to complain about.

It is a sad state of affairs.

Although I am a reasonably happy person, I know that complaining is the spice of life for New Englanders and, of course, residents of the Upper Valley. It may not solve a thing, but it certainly thickens our skin.

And we truly need to bolster the epidermis. Our weather is a marathon, for one thing. When the starter gun goes off we are dressed in clunky boots and hats from the Elmer Fudd Collection. We eventually run into weather moguls, days hot and cold, one after another, giving way to spring, mother of mud and black flies. Towns should replace their Frost Heave signs with Hazy, Hot and Humid Ahead.

But first come a few days when we are sure there is no finer weather anywhere. Something about them rightfully leaves New Englanders unsettled. “We’ll pay for it later,” everyone agrees. Too much and we could turn into Californians.

When bliss breaks out, it’s wise to have a grab bag of grievances at the ready. To endure days of splendor, I hold on to things like these:

OIL PRICES! We keep our home a little on the chilly side in winter, but at $5 a gallon for heating oil ... sign me up for the panic brigade. I don’t know if we can weatherize our bungalow in time for the next heating season. If not, I will deploy my inventor’s brain to think of ways to weatherize my wife and me. How will Dede look in a pink Dow-Corning R-30 fiberglass housecoat? Will goose down boxers work for me?

GAS PRICES! Blaming them on President Joe Biden is simplistic. Global energy markets are complex. Also sharing the blame could be Russia, Saudi Arabia, greedy corporations, shoppers who cut lines at the grocery store, neighbors who start mowing their lawns at 7 a.m., dog-walkers who don’t pick up poop, Flo the insurance spokeswoman, summer road work, the Illuminati, Tom Brady’s farewells, the Red Sox bullpen and anything else that annoys or mystifies you.

ZONING! I don’t know all the ins and outs of zoning, but there is something about the new “Dunkin’ in a Parking Lot” on the Miracle Mile in Lebanon that has me thinking about traffic, land use, public safety and, of course, doughnuts. There’s a supermarket there, and across the street is the Listen store, which I had already identified as the most vibrant retail store in the area — before Target arrived and threw the Upper Valley into a tizzy. There’s a movie theater, dollar-ish store, a couple of restaurants, an urgent care center and more. The city even built a traffic island so pedestrians can cross the road without sprinting and dodging. There is a lot going on, and I hope there are no plans for anything like a Ferris wheel, even though it would be fun.

DEVELOPMENT! Smarter people than me are going to have to figure out why there is a housing shortage even as developers continue an apartment- and condo-building spree in Lebanon. (Although maybe it’s as simple as Dartmouth expansionism in higher education, health care and football.) A new project, the Summit on Juniper Hill, aimed at graduate students, is now looking for tenants. Its website boasts about its units: “They are stylishly appointed with the kind of premium materials and finishes you won’t find in any other apartments for rent in Lebanon.” I don’t know how we townies are supposed to feel about that.

USED CARS! Prices are so inflated they would be a good value only if each vehicle came with a $5,000 bag of money in the trunk. I really wish I kept those junkers that I had towed away for nothing, or maybe 50 bucks. Who knew that ’80s Subaru with generous rust and an engine that clattered like a jackhammer was a hidden gem?

Of course, there are many more things to grouse about. There’s always taxes, Texas, potholes and “those people.” You know the ones: those people in Washington; those people in Hollywood; those people in Florida; those people who move here from wherever and want so many government services for all; those people who move here from wherever and want no services for anyone, as in Croydon.

The newest pet peeve in my reserve are those people who zoom through red lights on Route 12A. (I’m seeing a lot of them lately.) Apparently a changing light doesn’t mean stop. It means giddyup.

The bottom line: Don’t let a perfect day trouble you. This too, New Englander, will pass.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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