Suburbs take some getting used to

By Matthew Hennessey

We are new to the suburbs. We are late of the big city. Five months ago, in hopes of a quiet life—and a little space—we uprooted and rebooted.

It has been quite an adjustment. We own a car now. We have a lawn to water and leaves to rake. These are burdens we anticipated.

On the upside, we have a kitchen counter. And a washer and dryer. And a bedroom. These are all good things. Life has improved.

But no one told us about the acorns. These nuts of the oak are dangerous. And in our suburban patch, they’re everywhere. The backyard is blanketed with them. The kids call them “ouchies,” because stepping on acorns with sweet, bare, baby feet is the functional equivalent of walking on hot coals (sans Leidenfrost effect).

The acorns have a ground game, but they also control the skies. We hear these wood bullets before we see them; they slice and crash through the leaves before exploding off our picnic table. Our neighbor warned us not to park within range. “They’ll dent your car,” she said. I believe her.

The fusillade has recently subsided, but I won’t let my guard down. I reckon the threat from these sniper seeds remains until at least the first frost.

We’ve had to get used to other things, too.

Consider the birds. Suburban birds are loud. And pushy. One actually flew into the house. It was up the stairs and into the girls’ room before anything could be done. I had to “rescue” the poor bugger—a job which heavily taxed my limited powers of persuasion.

It says something, I suppose, that I did rescue it. The rat that invaded our New York City apartment wasn’t so lucky (you can read about it here). I had been holding on to a measure of guilt about killing that rat. Saving the sparrow has eased my mind. I’m not a reflexive taker of life after all.

Spiders are in abundance. This strikes me as a marginal increase in good fortune. In the city we had cockroaches and water bugs.

And then there are the blue laws. I have been known to bend the elbow of a Sunday, so advance knowledge of this proscription would have been salutary. A quick look at Wikipedia would have told me all I needed to know.

Since the founding of the puritanical theological colony of New Haven in 1638, Connecticut [has] had some of the strictest blue laws in the country. Until the 1970s, no stores were allowed to open on Sundays, save Jewish-owned businesses, which had to be closed on Saturdays. To this day, liquor sales and hunting on Sundays are illegal.

Luckily, these blue laws only extend as far as the state line, a mere 3.3 miles away. As is usual, some enterprising fellow operates a liquor store just past the Welcome to New York sign (which might as well say, Welcome Back to New York, Is It Sunday Already?).

The fact is: Life is different here. But it’s still life. And I’ll take it–ouchies, spiders, dry Sundays and all—over life in the city any day. Any. Day.

Just don’t call it the quiet life.

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