When I bought this place 17 years ago, it was summer, quiet traffic gap in a college town. The little house seemed a tropical island, miraculously isolated from city, a place in the country, Thoreau's cabin, well off pavement. Papers all signed, we move in, and on one otherwise quiet June morning I notice a noisy constant pump from a neighbor's pool. Summer Wednesdays I learn are Bike Nights when Harleys race up and race down the hills of College, roaring river at flood tide, audible in my paradise so recently acquired. And have I forgotten rider mowers, weed whackers, and the guy who with latest in power tools restores old Chevys?
So welcome to the soundtrack of urban America, Fayetteville style.
Welcome to my litany of audible woe. I've tried to figure out what to do. I thought maybe the city government would care, but some are themselves Wednesday's Harley Knights. Maybe the neighbor would consider an electric mower? But can you ride one? And pool pump? I enjoy the happy splashy screams of kids and their friends. It sounds like innocent fun, and I am a sour curmudgeon.
Sound curmudgeon I am; but, by the same token, this weird stuff doesn't just appear out of thin air, like an immaculate conception. Either the worst curmudgeon in me prevails, or I convert. The inside of my brain, that is, and at least some of my house. Down go windows, up goes AC, and there's a CD player beside my bed that like Superman is more powerful than a speeding locomotive, or perhaps I should say, rotor wash from a low passing chopper.
On the CD is "Rain Forest," from The Atmosphere Collection entitled "A month in the Brazilian Rainforest." Here's first aid for aggrieved audio sensitive brain cells. An island of sorts, rescue for a sound curmudgeon. Who would have thought my old house, so near a busy noisy center, could acquire modest aspects of Walden Pond where I might "Relax with Loon Lake" courtesy of Eclipse Music Group?
So on quiet days as in old and more naive times, I try my windows up and enjoy cardinals. But as antidote to my creeping and sometimes galloping sound curmudgeoncy, I have the "Nature sound adventure series" by Lang Elliot, numbers 1-4. He celebrates the birds of North America in all their audio glory: No. 1, "Prairie Spring," No. 2, "Voices of the Swamp," No. 3, "Seabird Islands," and 4, "Wings Over the Prairie."
For y'all out there with audio distress, yield not to your inner sound curmudgeon. Help is on the way! I have no license to practice, but palliation if not cure may be as simple and inexpensive as a do-it-yourself brain rewiring job.
JOSEPH C. NEAL in Fayetteville, Arkansas