Imagine a house, a small house with a long drive on a dead end road. There is a peach tree in the yard and a wide porch running the length of the house with potted plants; violets and petunias and zinnias and tomatoes, vines and flowers hanging over the rail. There is a stone wall and a lupine field that blooms purple in the summer, paths that lead deep into the woods.
You’ve scrimped and saved for this house, jumped through hoops, made deals with the devil. But it’s yours now, small maybe, but all yours.
Skip ahead 10 years or more. It is the last day of your vacation. But instead of being woken by the sweet sound of birds singing in the trees outside your window you are jolted awake by the ugly roar of a bulldozer, ripping and tearing through the beautiful lupine field. And you find, much to your surprise and dismay, that a tennis court will soon be your neighbor, instead of lupines and wildflowers.
How did this happen? Why weren’t you notified? Aren’t there rules? Regulations?
Worse yet, you soon discover that you have no recourse. The fact that your view over the stone wall will be forever married by an unsightly chain link fence doesn’t hold sway and all you get are a few evergreens to mitigate your suffering.
Ah, but wait, it isn’t over yet. Soon, you are woken again, though not to the sound of a bulldozer but rather to the more innocuous sound of a tennis ball being hit back and forth, from racket to court to racket and back again. Over and over. It is 6am. Your alarm hasn’t even gone off yet.
You ignore them at first. But it happens again and again and finally you do go over and politely inform the tennis enthusiasts that the courts do not open until 8am.
‘Oh, really? I had no idea,’ they always say.
Finally you call to complain, because if you go over there now you will not be polite. You will be loud and foul-mouthed and angry and this will not help.
‘Oh, is it the kids?’
‘No, it’s the women,’ you answer.
Of course it’s not the kids. They are smart enough to be sleeping in at the ungodly hour of 6am. It’s the women, the over 50 crowd who, for whatever reason, think that 6am is the perfect time to play tennis. They ignore the gate at the drive, parking in the lot above and walking down in their cute white skirts and million dollar rackets. They don’t read the enormous sign posted with the rules and regulations, which specifically says that the courts do not open until 8am. Or if they do, they ignore the sign because after all, rules do not apply to the ladies from New Harbor and Pemaquid, and Chamberlain who drive up from their summer ‘cottages’ on the water to play tennis for free on the local high school’s courts.
And of course, nothing is ever done. No one ever locks the door to the court like they should at the end of the day so anyone can come the next morning no matter how early and play and laugh and gossip over the nets with no thought whom they might disturb. And if you go over, they will only look at you in surprise. They can’t possibly comprehend how you could despise a tennis court. They never saw the lupine field in bloom, all vivid violets and blue and pink. They never saw the wildflowers bordering the edge of the field, the black-eyes susans, the daisies and buttercups, the Queen Ane’s Lace, or the wild irises. They never sat on the porch and just listened to the wind.
And after all, it could’ve been worse, people say; the tennis courts could’ve been a McDonald’s.