I must be getting older. Things that never bothered me before are really bothering me and one of those things is [most] man-made noise.

I’ve already mentioned here and elsewhere that I don’t like background noise — apart from my year-long experiment with audio-books, that is.  I rarely listen to music or radio unless I’m in the car, and then only sometimes. I like the sound of my thoughts in my head.

In the spring, summer and autumn when it is not cooler than 70 or hotter than 90 or raining sideways we have our windows open. I love hearing the bird sounds in the spring. I love hearing the wind rattle the autumn leaves. I even like hearing the sound of children playing at the local park. And at night? My favorite sound is the sound of a train in the distance.

Right now, though, at possibly ear drum damaging decibels, the neighbor’s lawn-care folks are mowing and weed-whacking their lawn. They’re mowing the lawn with a huge riding lawn mower. The lawn is not huge. It is so small that I don’t know how the lawn mower can fit through the gate in the hedge. And it is loud.

This morning when I awoke at 7:30, I heard a loud noise. At first I thought it was Dean washing the floor with the floor washing machine he loves so much, but then realized it came from outside. It sounded like an airplane. I looked in the sky and did see two large (and low) vapor trails, so perhaps a couple of military airplanes flew over the house.

Have you seen the movie Noise? I saw part of it, but it made me too uncomfortable so I quit watching it.  I could sympathize with the Tim Robbins character so much it was scary.

Recently I read about a study suggesting that song sparrows were beginning to sing louder in places that had loud manufactured noise. I’m glad for the song sparrows — that they can adapt, but sad for them too. They should be able to adapt in fun ways, not to sing louder than a weed-whacker.

At night, in Bethesda, with the windows open, not only can I hear train whistles, but I also hear the sound of the beltway. I didn’t realize it was the beltway until I heard Susan Coll read from her book, Beach Week, where a woman hears a sound she thinks is the surf of the ocean but is the beltway instead. Sometimes I also hear Suburban Hospital’s heating and air conditioning unit. I might even be able to hear noise from NIH at night.

Next life I hope to live in the country where all I hear are owls and coyotes at night and birdsong during the day.

11 thoughts on “Noise

  1. I love to hear all of the outdoor sounds. But I keep hearing this kind of clunk-clunk sound in the distance when I wake up at like 3 or 4 AM. It was frequent but random and I first thought it was some sort of construction equipment doing a job. At 3 or 4 AM? Roight. Early this morning, I realized that it was construction-related rumble strips on the freeway *1-1/2* miles away from me.


  2. Oh, I can so relate to this. I love my house and my yard and my neighbourhood, but my street is full of noise at night (cars, drunken louts, random fireworks on no occasion whatsoever)…


  3. The kind of noise that makes me most crazy (especially living in a relatively quiet place, but the houses are right up against each other) is either loud music or people talking. White noise—or what I perceive as white noise—I can live with (lawnmowers more than snowmobiles). But I can’t work/concentrate if music is on. And a single voice is way more of a problem than a hundred voices…


    1. People around here don’t play loud music so much — except my husband and kids that is. I used to not really mind the white noise, but lately it has bothered me.

      We’re going to get the neighbors back today though. We’re running the air conditioning since the temperature is supposed to get to 93.


  4. I live downtown, but it’s a small town (about 150,000, plus thousands of university students; not that I’m blaming all the noise on them).


  5. Oddly, even though I live in an apartment just above a main street, the loudness disappears if I walk away from my home office or living room. From the bedroom or kitchen I can’t hear a peep. So I guess I’m used to the choices. When I lived in the suburbs for a little while the quiet freaked me out!


    1. You know — I’m not sure I’d mind city noises because they are supposed to be there, but the noise of lawn mowers and leaf blowers drowns out the sounds of birds.


  6. Can you hear the really loud intermittent darth vader on CPAP noise that seems to be coming from suburban or NIH tonight? Or old Georgetown. I can hear echoes so I know it is loud. What is going on?


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