The Sounds of Silence and The Echoes of Noise
A few days ago I described my old family home to you. I wrote of the isolation of the house away from the dirt road, I wrote of it being surrounded by woods, heck I even wrote about my two little grandsons running around wearing nothing but smiles. What I didn’t write about was the sounds.
I often refer to it as the sounds of silence. But that’s not right either. It’s not a lack of sounds, it’s a different set of sounds. I mentioned that I grew up here in the middle of nowhere and the summer before I turned 8 years old we headed to Long Island for the funeral of a relative. We stayed with my paternal grandparents in a house on Myrtle Ave. in Port Jefferson.
I barely slept the whole time I was there.
Mom put me to bed, turned off the light and closed the door. And that’s when the unfamiliarity crept in. All I could hear through the open window was the zooming of cars, squealing of tires, the occasional snatches of laughter and conversation mixed in with honking horns and way too many dogs barking wanting to get inside their homes.
I couldn’t believe all the strange and loud noise. The loudest thing I had ever heard back home was thunder from passing storms. Normally I was lulled to sleep by chirping crickets, hooting owls, bullfrogs and sometimes in the distance a lowing cow.
That was the one thing I missed terribly when I left my family home when I married. My husband and I had become townies. If folks from my area are reading this they would be rolling their eyes right now – because our town is so small and rural that the sidewalks roll up before 9pm. It’s still too big and full of people for my liking.
But the noises are still there – and sometimes they’re scary. The cars with their thumping stereos and 18 wheelers cruising through, the hammering of air brakes, the whoop-whoop of a police car, the wail of an ambulance siren, the ruckus and tinny music coming from the bars uptown, the fights from the couple ½ a block down, the mom swearing at her kid to get in the house “right this second or else!”.
I spent 27 years in noise overload. The only reprieve I had was during the day, when kids and people were at school and work. When my house would be filled with white noise; the refrigerator fan running, the washer swishing away, the dryer tumbling our clothes with a the cheerful clink – clink of zippers and buttons hitting the drum.
I refused to turn on a TV or a radio. At times all you could hear in the living room was the ticking of a clock. Those were the times I felt nearly normal. I could read, stitch, and think in relative peace.
Now that I’m ‘back home’, all is right with my world again.
I’ve spent a lot of time outside just listening to the wind blow. Sometimes it howls as it races through the gulley, other times it causes the leaves of the trees to perform a captivating symphony while blowing gently in the breeze. Occasionally the wind lets you know just how powerful it is, cracking and snapping huge limbs off the trees. Sometimes it’s just a whisper of love from lost family and friends as the breath of air softly rustles your hair or tenderly brushes your cheek.