Background noise

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Now that it’s open-window season, I’ve been thinking about noise and distractions. I don’t live in a particularly loud neighborhood, but as I write this post, I hear my neighbor’s fountain gurgle, birds chirping, and a steady, loud-ish buzz that sounds like some sort of belt sander and recurs throughout the day.

All this is punctuated by the occasional rawl of fighting cats and, less frequently but more alarmingly, fighting humans, slamming car doors or yelling into cell phones or shouting as they walk down the street. In New York, we pride ourselves on being able to tune out noise, but I think that’s largely a delusion, because I’ve lived here since I was 18 and every fall I have the same experience: shut the windows, turn off the fans, and marvel at the sudden hush. Or maybe it’s just transitions that are awkward — give me another few weeks, and I’ll no longer be distracted by the strange grunts and screeches of the squirrels, or even notice when an airplane passes overhead.

What noises do you hear throughout the day?

2 thoughts on “Background noise

  1. I live in a rural area in Western Massachusetts so a lot of what I hear at various times of the year is related to farm equipment. My husband and I love to take walks after dark and because the surrounding area is almost swampy, there are a lot of “peepers” talking to us. I love the background hum of nocturnal creatures and the croaking of the frogs. It reminds me I live in a beautiful place.

  2. I’m currently living in Jakarta so during the day I hear the carts going by selling tea, noodles, and other food to the workers in the neighborhood. There’s also carts going by to collect cardboard or glass for recycling. Each cart has a distinct sound so everyone knows when the banging pan is coming down the road the noodle cart is on the way, or when the soft hoot comes around we should put out our cardboard. And the tea cart has a high-pitched whistle of the kettle, so that’s easy to hear coming!

    In a way it’s reassuring to know there’s people around all the time, but I have to admit sometimes all the noise gets on my nerves, especially when it starts at 6am!

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