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My modest investment pays relaxing dividends

By purchasing a beach chair, I have saved myself tens of thousands of dollars. Now I have no need to buy a summer house.

On weekends, I carry the beach chair four blocks from my apartment to Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street, and enter Central Park. Just inside the park is a meadow called the East Green. I open the chair and plunk myself down. This beats leaning against the rough bark of trees, which I have done for years.

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I take off my sneakers and socks. Here I write and read, and watch New Yorkers at play - biking, roller-skating, running, picnicking.

New Yorkers live physically confining lives in small apartments, sharing crowded sidewalks, subways, and buses. We need the park to unwind.

The views from my beach chair are splendid: the meadow, park trees, and the facades of apartment buildings along Fifth Avenue.

Owning a beach chair instead of a house means no mortgage, no leaking roof, no entertaining of demanding weekend guests.

And, not having a house, I have no need for a car. This is another huge savings. Not only the cost of a car, but also the monthly garage fees, now priced at $700 on my block.

Weekdays, I return home from work around 7 p.m., the same hour the park closes to cars. On summer evenings, I like to ride my bicycle. Entering the park from the steaming, car-clogged streets, I experience a welcome temperature drop of more than five degrees.

In the park, I enjoy watching the final innings of a softball game. The game ends, the players depart. I lie down in the empty outfield: soft, cool grass after a day spent on hard, hot pavements and subway platforms.

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I gaze at the impressive Central Park South skyline. The sun descends behind West Side buildings.

I rise from the field, mount my bicycle, and resume riding. By the Sheep Meadow, I hear the music of Verdi. Opera is being performed in the park tonight.

Darkness falls. Fireflies appear. With lights flashing on my bicycle, I join the fireflies.

I leave the park and return to my apartment. The bicycle goes in the bedroom.

A beach chair. A bicycle. Two modest possessions providing me with pleasure.