Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn Days at Home

I was sitting at my desk the other morning thinking how quiet the neighborhood was. During the night with the windows open and no fan noise, I heard coyotes howling for the first time in months. Then it was warm enough to have windows open early and I could hear one lonely bird in a backyard tree singing. That's all. Soon enough of course all the noise started: Dave grinding a metal guard he's building, our stone wall crew started up their equipment and yelling measurements to each other, and traffic. Next door they were planing wood or something. It was a normal day in the neighborhood.

All that noise started me thinking about how quiet it used to be 16 years ago when we moved here. At that time, even though our neighbors had a construction company on their property with a few employees, traffic was limited. Some days there wouldn't be even 20 vehicles go by, and at night only one or two. I did hear a carload of young people stop by our tree line one night. I don't think anyone was too sober; they were giggling and talking very loudly. Finally they went on; guess someone had to answer the call of nature.

Otherwise nights were generally silent. I frequently heard an owl in a tree in our yard, and the coyotes or occasionally a deer chuffing to signal danger. And since we live in the country and people sometimes dump cats out here, we would hear fights and mating noises on occasion. I loved those quiet nights, slept better than I ever had in my life.

Then came the bluestone boom. All the quarries around here that had been closed for some time opened up again. Before dawn huge trucks would load stone and head out for New Jersey or Connecticut, even California. Quarrying is by nature noisy work and we were surrounded by them so the noise would bounce back and forth from mountaintop to mountaintop. All good things come to an end, of course, and finally the sales of bluestone faltered. Now many quarries are closed again, waiting for the next boom.

By that time traffic had picked up enormously, not just stone trucks, but commuters who used our road as a shortcut. Now there were sometimes 20 vehicles per hour rather than per day. Doesn't seem like much if you live in the city, but out here the only time we had been used to traffic was Friday evening and Sunday afternoon when weekenders came and went. And the traffic has steadily gotten faster. I don't walk on our road anymore - too dangerous.

We're having a bit of a quiet spell now for a while, but the seismic mappers have walked throughout the area and blown little charges and the helicopters have picked up their bundles of supplies. Now we await the first of the drilling operations. Then we'll really have noise 24/7 for a while. Things have changed so much since we moved here, but enormous change is coming. Wish us luck!

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