In summer the song
-William Carlos Williams
When we first moved here from the city it was late March and we were struck by how quiet it is. Although we do have neighbors, they’re not nearly so close as they are on a city street, and a line of trees on all sides buffer sound.
There’s not a constant stream of traffic, the lyrics from blaring stereos escaping from open windows, the bass turned up so high sometimes that you can sort of feel the car coming long before you see it. There’s no beeping from impatient drivers when the car in front of them doesn’t move quickly enough when the light goes green. No incessant sirens from the firehouse a few blocks down or on their way to the hospital half a mile away. No combatant couple going at it every weekend like clockwork, muttering and yelling until someone gives up and reports a domestic abuse or noise violation so that we can all get some sleep.
Peace. Silence. That’s March.
Summer is a whole different thing. I wake up to the house wrens feeding their babies, a cascade of warbling notes like a bubbling fountain, a chorus of fainter song responding in excitement or hunger. The crows hold a meeting in the trees outside my bedroom window, sometimes hopping down to pace the ground while they state their case. A pileated woodpecker laughs and drums away. Sometimes a squirrel gets all riled up and starts scolding. Morning is my favorite.
Once the sun gets nice and hot though, the birds sensibly settle down for naps and all I hear is insects. Bees and dragonflies drone by. And all day long, all night long, the grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas and katydids are hard at work. It’s constant, unrelenting. In mid-July they haven’t started yet and I’ll wonder where they are; by the first week of August I can’t believe I was looking for it. It’s SO LOUD, crazy making, wave after wave after wave of drawn out clicking and buzzing.
Perspective: I don’t miss the sounds of the city. And I know that pretty soon the robins will be at it and they’re downright annoying to hear all day long. After that, the leaves will turn and fall and the winds and snow will come and I’ll be counting the days until the hot and hazy days of summer return.
So I’ll try to enjoy the sounds of the golden afternoons while I still have them; savor the sunshine warming me all the way through, the delicious respite of a cold sweaty drink or unexpected cool air washing in at night.
It’s hard though. Goddamn those bugs are loud.