Sounds I can do without

I have moved out of  my old office in a dark ancient living room — a great winter office due to the cheery little woodstove — but it is a place filled with Civil War sabers, sextants, quadrants, old smelly books and dark oil paintings of long dead ancestors. Given my recent eye surgery and need for some great light, I moved into a sunny room surrounded by windows on three sides — an old summer porch we converted to year round use a decade ago.

I sit in a corner with the windows open, and realize there are two sounds filling the center of the village that I could do without.

  • Leaf blowers. These offend me to no end. They burn fossile fuels, they are whiny and loud like a jet ski, and they are horribly inefficient. The days of handymen with bamboo rakes and smoking piles of leaves are long gone — so even the fall doesn’t smell the way it used to. I can remember raking and burning leaves and burying big potatoes in the ashes for a late afternoon reward on the lawn with my grandfather. Now it’s all whining and blowing as the landscape squads move through the waterfront estates and put things to bed for the season.
  • Back-up horns: The center of the village is under construction. Once Labor Day arrives the off-season road work begins and since Cape Cod essentially has the same roads it had in 1950, doing road construction or repairs during the summer crush is insane. The  Sagamore Bridge is a good example of the off-season construction phenomenon. A Depression-era steel structure sitting a couple hundred feet above the salty Cape Cod Canal and it needs some serious work. So the traffic on and off the Cape is worse now than it is on a Sunday night in July.  Here in Cotuit the second biggest avenue — Scho0l Street — is under construction and the old gas station at the corner of Main and School is being demolished to provide more parking. All day long — beep, beep, beep. I know it’s good safety: a poor policeman was killed in Centerville a decade ago when a dump truck without a backup horn crushed him. But — between the leaf blowers and the back up horns ….. As the Mission of Burma song said, “That’s when I reach for my revolver …”

Sounds I like?

  • Ten feet behind me, in the grape arbor, hangs a ripening crop of purple Concord grapes. Under the white framework, in the dark shadows under the vines, is a collection of bird feeders. I am a big bird feeding person, and because the arbor is in an alcove formed by my porch, the house, and the front porch, it is a very secure place for birds to hide from hawks and cats. Because my wife and I feed the birds year round the feeding tubes are very busy and a flock of at least 100 English sparrows has taken over — moving off of the birdseed and into the rose bushes and morning glories with a huge whooshing exhalation behind my back, like an immense lung. The sound is amazing. The birds will probably eat the grapes before I can harvest them and try to make jelly.
  • I miss the cat-like peeping and screeching of the ospreys cruising along the bluff behind the house for snapper bluefish, menhaden and herring. I realize today they have left — on the way south for the winter. I love watching them over the baseball field in the summer, gliding overhead with a fish in their talons.

Can you tell I am procrastinating?