I guess I truly am a country boy who loves the quietude and serenity of the wide open spaces, but before someone jumps in and advises me, as to how quiet the countryside is “not”, I will quickly acquiesce that no, it is not silent, nor is it always a lovely place! Noise from Nature and natural happenings, is ever present, but my point being: the noise I hear is for the most part, more to do with the sounds of Nature’s living symphony, than it is with man made/generated noise!
From my personal experience of living for some years in a residential area of Toronto, called Scarborough, when my days were filled with the cacophonic racket of engines, blaring horns, slamming doors, loud boom box radios carried on high by proud ( quickly becoming deaf) owners who seem not to “hear” the music unless the ‘beat’ could be felt from thunderous percussion! Add in a further mix of various ethnic voices, machines accompanied by the swearing and screeching of brakes, I for one, am most pleased that today, I mostly hear the sounds of Mother Nature and an under tone of faint spill-over noises from the main highway, half a mile to our north!
Mostly, all I hear is the softly sighing breeze: the rustling of leaves (spring and summer only) the creaking and cracking of trees as frost - winter only - exerts its power upon the whole region. The soft chuckling of water as it meanders down the stream under its winter coat of ice and most evenings, if one listens closely, then one hears the drumming of wings from a Ruffed Grouse, as it sends a warning message to any that would hear, that perhaps a fox is afoot and now’s the time to go high up into the cedars to roost. In the late afternoon or early evening we sometimes hear the grunting of deer as they forage for food around the Spruce plantation to our south or, on occasion - generally spring - their search for a mate. Later, more so when the moon is full, the band of coyotes that frequent our region howl their songs to the sky and call to one another as they lay their plans for their hunting later, or the sharp bark of a marauding fox.
Occasionally, when the hour is late and we are lying abed, hoping to sift through the tumbled mess in that we call our brain, we sometimes hear the caterwauling of a cat chorus. One that determines I shall be forced to listen to the latest ‘cool cat’ music as they court. Sounds that persuade us, cats are plighting their troth to the most engaging and domineering Tom Cat, who is intent on having his wicked way with the females of the neighbourhood. They in turn, sing his praises - leastwise I think that’s what they’re doing, but I do not investigate that too closely! Moreover, this Chorus of cat calls is easily put to flight when I toss a well aimed boot in their general direction!
Of course throughout the year, our silence is frequently broken by various farm machines which are ever busy, and bustling around the fields. One also occasionally hears the sound of a happy worker as he sings or whistles about his tasks. Not heard so frequently in today’s world as when I myself was a young worker on the farm, for almost everyone sang or whistled as they went about their daily chores.
But this “noise”, as it is termed, was and is, by its very nature, a symphony that told those of us who would listen closely, that someone is going about their daily business, and Mother Nature is being groomed or chivvied into the shape deemed necessary. I guess “noise” as such, is only noise to those who do not understand from where it might come, or are perhaps unable to understand why it is a necessary accompaniment to the procedures we adopt or, what purpose it fulfills? Noise in the city which so many accept as normal, would be a terrible problem were it to invade our country lanes, but then again, the chances are, for the city dweller, the noise they hear, adds a degree of comfort to their lives, and reinforces their way of life, whilst country sounds would be thought alien to their ears.
To be honest, I enjoy my kind of ‘noise’ and after many years of retiring to the countryside - similar to the country location in which I was born - I now find city noises brash, blaring and bothersome today. But city dwellers are under an illusion if they think the countryside is quiet and soundless! Many speak of their quietude - and doubtless in their own mind, they are convinced this is so, but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts there are as many sounds - maybe less discordant but nonetheless, that could be termed “noisy” - to those who would allow themselves to listen carefully?
In review I would aver that noise, is only noise to the listener, if it is thought unusual; out of place, or is ‘sound’ that is boosted to such a degree, that it hurts our ears! There is ample evidence to show noise can and will damage our hearing, should we not lessen the volume!
Just a few thoughts I've had today!
Rhymer. March 20th, 2014.