Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Loudest Quietest Place

The following article was submitted to LongmeadowBuzz by Betsy Huber Port/ Longmeadow, MA.

It should have been a peaceful summer afternoon, a couple of days after the solstice. Under our lush yellow wood tree, my husband and I sat down in the bucolic backyard for a few minutes to rest after a busy morning. We expected relative quiet punctuated by the sounds of songbirds.  Much to our consternation, trucks could be clearly heard roaring down the road along with construction workers digging up the street nearby and high decibel lawn mowers tending to the yards.  Repaving season is upon us. Drilling, digging, fixing, resurfacing…. it's an endless cycle of renewal during this time of year. It was a cacophony of outdoor sounds that proved deafening to my aging ears.  We left the big city over twenty years ago to raise our family in a more tranquil setting…what was going on? 

There is too often a confluence of events in our neighborhood that produces these layers of unharmonious irritating noises! There are the welcome sounds, such as waking up to the pecking of an early morning woodpecker in Bliss Woods and the music of various birds that start singing around 6 am. Later in the morning, those beautiful natural aural treats are rudely interrupted by the recently altered air traffic pattern, with Bradley’s flight paths now going straight over our roof. Then as the airplane passes above, a chainsaw begins to trim a huge oak tree in our neighbor’s yard with another unwelcome loud lawn machine in the backdrop and hammering across the street. To make matters worse, we hear an ambulance heading north towards Springfield and then a fire truck races behind it…a horn honks, a dog barks, a child cries and a bee is buzzing around my flowers! I try to meditate. A medley of mechanical sounds derails me. Next, the ceaseless infernal back up warnings of equipment and backhoes…Beep, Beep, Beep. Then along come the garbage trucks, slamming on their brakes and banging those trashcans upside down.  Ah, country life! Do you remember the song from the TV show Green Acres? Can you recall the words and the tune?

Eddie Albert’s character: “Green acres is the place to be! Farm living is the life for me! Land spreading out so far and wide, Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside”
His wife played by Eva Gabor replies: “New York is where I’d rather stay…I get allergic smelling hay, I just adore a penthouse view, Darling I love you but give me Park Avenue… “
“The stores! The chores!
Fresh air! Times Square
You are my wife. Goodbye city life.
Green Acres, we are there!”

This memorable song just makes me chuckle. Longmeadow may not be “The Country” but it certainly feels like the suburbs in a bucolic setting! I may not identify with the couple from the TV sitcom of the 1960s but it sure was funny to see that our town has a street called Greenacre. There are things that I miss about our Manhattan lifestyle, and more things that I treasure about our Longmeadow life.  The sounds of taxis honking and construction workers repairing and building the streetscapes of NYC sure were even louder than here, but they were expected and go with the territory. The city of Springfield is certainly not a major metropolitan area, but when the casino comes it certainly will bring with it some traffic and congestion! I’m anticipating the sights and sounds worsening as the construction on Interstate-91 progresses and the casino development gets underway. The historic semi-rural nature of our town has managed to survive the last century as our farming community developed into a commuter suburb. Let us hope that the character, integrity and privacy of our hometown can survive and thrive as we move forward towards our future. In the meantime, please don’t mow your lawn or for that matter blow your leaves after 6 pm and refrain from making loud mechanical noises on the weekends…I need some peace and quiet to write.

Betsy Huber Port