Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peace and Quiet?

That's what many people imagine to be the essence of country life. Well, it depends. I lived most of my adult life in the city and yes, there's traffic noise during the day and you'll hear people talking loudly or yelling. Sometimes people have their domestic quarrels on the sidewalk. You'll hear sirens a couple of times per hour.

After about 11:00 pm, though, it gets quiet. Often at night it will be dead quiet, until the truck comes at 4:30 am to empty the dumper across the street.

Here, the soundscape is different, but it's really not quieter. In late summer -- August and September, i.e. right now -- the racket in the woods feels almost deafening. It isn't really loud enough to impede conversation, but it feels overwhelming because it is so complex. Continual thrumming, chirping, skirling, trilling, cheeping overlaid by birdsong and the harsh calls of crows and barred owls. It evolves over the 24 hours but never stops. Late summer nights, in other words, are much louder here than they are in Jamaica Plain.

Then there's the gunfire, which I have written about before. If you hear gunshots in the city, you call the police. If people did that here, the cops would be camped out. There's a guy somewhere nearby who empties a 12 round magazine every afternoon, I guess when he gets home from work. Some people need a martini, that's what he does. Weekend mornings it's like Donetsk around here.

We also have chainsaws, and kids riding motorbikes and RVs. And farm equipment. The corn harvest is about to start and I'll be hearing it all day.

Winter is when it's quiet. When the snow blankets the ground you can step outside and hear exactly nothing. But you know, it's cold.

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