So I’m sitting here in the idyllic countryside of a Maine August morning, leafing through a rather elderly issue of New York Magazine, checking out an article prosaically entitled “How Loud.. .” which offers up a handy guide to decibels for jackhammers, taxi horns, and all that city nonsense. Not for me! I live in Eden! At this hour the sound of the grass growing lush around me is harmonized by exuberant songbirds. Ah --- life is indeed good, I sigh and, while I am resigned to drinking generic Mr. Coffee rather than fresh-ground beans from McNulty’s and I must drive more than an hour to secure anything approaching a fresh bagel, I am content in my exile from the cosmopolitan chaos, reclining in a vintage wicker rocker, my eardrums intact.
The sun streams through the screen house where the irritating hum of a lone mosquito plays tenor jazz to the buzzing of several errant flies who have managed to thwart the flypaper festoons. Yes, annoying, but how many decibels, really? I smile.
Crows, a gang of black-jacketed thugs, begin screaming at some unfortunate bluejay who screeches defiantly back and the whole turf-war erupts above my lawn with nary a consideration for my sanctity. Ooh, it is a bit loud. The dog, although almost a full-grown Dobie, contributes yodels of fox-terrier shrillness that could shatter crystal. Have we reached X decibels yet? My own four-letter word-barks add an interesting note to the cacophony. Everyone finally recognizes that I am indeed Alpha. The boss! The dog quiets, the crows leave, the songbirds return. I sigh.
No neighbors are visible from my house, yet that does not necessarily insure privacy. On this fine morning Al-The-Retired-State-Trooper decides that hunting season must be just around the corner and reckoning that you can never be overly prepared to blast those tricky bucks into oblivion, adds staccato bursts of rifle fire to the mix, jolting the dog once again into action. Bam! Yike, yike, yap! Bam! Yike, yike, yap! Al’s thirty-ought-six echoes across the brook bordering our properties. Of course Al is an excellent shot. Besides, there are all those friendly absorbent leaves between us! Why should I flinch?
I am several hundred feet and many trees off the highway (acres away from my border with Al) but as now the summer stimulus road construction has begun in earnest, an army of graders and bulldozers and gravel trucks release on this very day a discordant symphony with grace notes of screeching brakes and bullhorns. Auditory tax dollars at work. I had no problem with the road the way it was. Seemed fine to me.
My property backs up to a forest of dubious distinction (away from Al and away from the road) but considering today’s wood prices, any tree is worthy of a chainsaw massacre and abruptly I am treated to surround-sound in my little amphitheatre as the screams of lumbering and skidder snarls compete with the road noise, further aggravating the crows, the jays, and the dog who is still concerned with the gunfire.
At least I can no longer hear that damn mosquito.
Causes Mara Buck Supports
Kennebec Valley Humane Society, Amnesty International