A penny for your thoughts, a quick decision-making toss of a penny or perhaps a penny wished upon for good luck? All those options pertained to me today. Soon into my 2 ¾ mile trek this morning I saw a gleaming penny on the sidewalk. I picked it up, turned it over and saw it was minted in 2013. It was a very bright and shiny copper and looked virtually untouched. Momentarily, I was reminded of my mom who always referred to a penny as a “copper” which is really a Canadian reference for this coin. Well, I made a wish and tucked that penny into my pocket for safekeeping. That wish came to me easily because I am burdened by worry and uneasiness the last few days. I am conflicted over a problem, so in a sense, the penny represents me . I wish it were as easy as tossing a coin into the air to call “heads” or “tails” and the resulting plunk of that penny would determine my answer.
My walks take me all over Lincoln Park and everywhere I go I see spent firecrackers in every size, some still half-bursting from blackened cardboard wrappers. There are always sparklers laying around too, just discarded onto sidewalks, driveways, even lawns, including my own. I was very concerned about neighborhood firecracker usage last year with the drought, but now my fears are intensified. Last week my handyman was cleaning out the gutters and found a burnt shingle near the rear of the house, which would be the location of my bedroom. The firecracker had burnt the shingle, necessitating replacement of the damaged shingle as well as tearing off two perfectly good shingles to get to the burnt one. Luckily I had a large package of shingles in the garage from when I lost some after a heavy wind several years ago, or it would have cost more than just the $45.00 for last week’s repair job. Unfortunately, this was not just wind damage – no, not an act of God– this was damage from a person who was more interested in the momentary pleasure of a few colorful trails of lights in the sky or a big boom here and there than being respectful of other neighbors. While I had almost gotten used to the nightly 10:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. noise fest since well before Memorial Day, the more critical beef now is the burnt shingle from an errant firecracker. This morning’s local news told the tale of a West Bloomfield home which sustained major damage when a neighbor’s firecracker landed on the roof, smoldered all night and ended up gutting the house due to smoke and water damage. That story terrifies me, especially when every night my neighbors across from and behind me are setting off firecrackers. Where are they keeping their stash during the day? Stockpiled in the garage? Do I alert the authorities about the damage and then worry about retribution down the road? Do I go and ask the neighbors behind to be more careful, i.e. appeal to them? Do I let it lie and risk the potential of the house burning down? My neighbor Marge and I have dealt with our backyard neighbors in the past in 2008 and 2010 – both occasions were because their pit bull, left out 24/7 barked day and night and caused rat problems. The fiasco only ended because they got rid of dog number 1 and number 2, and certainly not because of our pleas.
Tonight, a massive crowd will head to the Detroit River to see the impressive international fireworks display. Firecrackers should only be displayed under controlled circumstances like this and I rue the day Governor Snyder legalized them in Michigan. I wish this were not so, … but wishing does not solve problems – so heads or tails it will have to be.