January 12, 2010

Turn it off

Yesterday I walked in the woods.  The snow – fresh fallen on a few days accumulation – was ideal for snow shoeing. I managed to spend a couple of hours off path, exploring parts of the woods that are new to me. Places unattainable after the brush has filled in and the ticks are out.

I was the noisiest creature there, snapping off dead limbs from bushes and small trees. The shish of ski pants, my snowshoes snapping up from the heel. I was gasping a bit, too and I know that I yelped when I fell once. When I stopped to rest, the woods were so quiet I could hear some old trees creaking, and a bird now and then. Nice to be alone in the woods on days like that.  As I write this, I can hear the humming of my computer and the ticking of my fingers on the keyboard. My chair squeaks a little. Nice to be alone in the office on a day like this. I hear sounds – no noise.

But it’s a day of errands for me and I’ll be heading out soon. First, the bank, where they’ve started to play background music. I don’t like this. It’s not because I don’t like music (this is questionable somedays) but because I don’t think one’s financial institution should be so casual that someone could start up a spontaneous conga line while in the midst of making out a bank draft or calculating interest owing on a mortgage (to be fair, I don’t like run-on sentences, either, but that seemed not to stop me).

Then I’ll walk down the street to the drugstore, and I’ll pass a restaurant that has a little speaker above the door emitting Sade, Norah Jones, or a Tex-Mex band that was popular a decade ago but whose name I’ve forgotten. I never hear Dave Brubeck or Johnny Cash. To the dry cleaners: the rattle of the automated racks and the blare of music playing in the background. Home again: car radios booming as the kids from the school fire up to go home – not without socializing. Voices raised to be heard above the car radios and screaming laughter from teenaged girls as teenaged boys toss around the keys to the girls’ expensive cars. Right now, I hear a car idling. This really chafes.

At country markets, small stages are erected for live music to be played, and the fuzzy hum of bad sound systems distorts it. It’s only when the musicians take a break that you can hear the sounds of the market – conversations, kids, an occasional dog bark. Restaurants, shops, hairdressers – dens of abuse.

It’s a blight, this noise. It interferes with sound.


One Response to “Turn it off”
  1. Jane Greening

    I do agree. Now if only someone would turn off the voices in my head.