They’re building a new football stadium a block away from my house, and the noise has been going on all summer. Heavy trucks rumbling down the street, heavy equipment engines starting and grumbling, construction sounds of grinding, sawing and miscellaneous thuds and yells and crashes. There has been little parking provided for the workers, so most of the time they park in our neighborhood; usually by six am the car engines, radios and slamming doors are noticeable. (The lack of parking at the stadium bodes ill for neighborhood parking during the events and classes to be held in the expanded space.)
In the next block, someone’s renovating an old house, so the hammering and sawing start at a more neighborly seven or so, usually not too early but pervasive throughout the day.
Ours is an old house with thick brick walls and working windows, and we’ve never installed air conditioning. So, all summer our windows are open to the fresh air, the sounds of the trees in the breeze, and any stray noises around the neighborhood. The trees mitigate the noises from all but the most disruptive sounds from the local brewery, the ceramics plant, the school power plant or the highways. Sirens occasionally break the silence, but for some reason don’t seem too disruptive. The volunteer fire department used to go a little nuts sometimes, and you’d hear six or eight sirens going off at once from various parts of town, but that seems to have subsided these days.
Neighbors are pretty considerate in the mornings. Being an old neighborhood where the houses are close together, people keep it down until 8 am or so. Usually most lawn mowing and noisy outdoor work doesn’t start until then. For a while, the guy down the block with the diesel pickup started it up about six each morning to head off to work, but I think maybe he retired or sold the truck. The school ROTC guys used to jog and chant in cadence through the neighborhood really early, loudly making sure that everyone knew how tough they were, but nowadays they run quieter or later. (Maybe they’re no longer as tough?)
Tuesday mornings are trash days, and the requisite noisy garbage trucks move down the alleys, with the mechanical arm that picks up each container, dumps it loudly into the truck and then slams it down. Every other week we get two trucks, one for trash and one for recycling. The latter usually includes bottles and glass, so has a different pitch than the regular garbage. It tinkles and clinks and crashes very musically — or maybe just very noisily.
We’re accustomed to the usual stadium event noises that happen in the afternoons or evenings. Events at the field are accompanied by the loudspeaker announcing plays or just narrative. There is usually music, either recordings or, during games, from the marching band. One of our traditional treats on game days is the school band marching by our house playing the school fight song on their way to the stadium. Most neighbors come out and sit on their porches to cheer the band on as they play by.
A nearby park and craft brewery often has live music on Fridays or weekends that is perfectly audible at our house. It could be a function of the sound system used, but often we’re glad we don’t have to attend the concerts. The big park across the creek hosts major city activities, and their loudspeaker blares throughout the afternoon and evening. For years, the same local dignitary served as commentator and emcee, and over time we began to resent his amplified voice. Now others have taken his place that have yet to rub us the wrong way, although the music selection still leaves something to be desired.
But these normal sounds are part of the background, almost white, noise. Routinely, summer mornings are cool and a little breeze keeps you under the covers. The leaves rustle in the wind, and the birds chirp and sing and have all their important conversations at the beginning of their day in the branches just outside the window. Occasionally a squirrel will thump onto the roof and skitter across to the trees on the other side. There is the subtle sound of the neighborhood and the town waking up and getting down to daily business. It’s all part of living here and being a part of the neighborhood.
The construction is winding down, I believe, so maybe the noise level will return to normal. Hopefully, we’ll get back to just the usual sounds that don’t really wake you up as much as confirm where you are. It lets you know you are where you’re supposed to be — home.