Saturday, May 18, 2013


     The best thing about Saturday is the fact that I get to spend a little more time in  bed in the morning. Usually, during the week, at least during the school year, I get up at 5:30 a.m. It's dark. It's too early. But I need a couple of hours to pull myself together before I go to work. I know people who get up 1/2 hour before they have to go out the door. Not me.
     So, I was laying in bed this morning with my husband quietly snoring beside me, and listening to the noises of an early morning neighborhood. We have always slept with our windows open, even in the dead of winter. It's not like it snows or anything where we live. Anyway, it was around 7:30ish.  The neighbor next door had just let their dogs out. They roust around together, the two German Shepherds, before you can hear the faint clang of their tags on a food dish. And then they quiet down. Sometimes they bark, once or twice, if they hear something we can't. We live a block from the main street in town, and I hear delivery trucks almost every morning, going to and from the small local businesses. An airliner flies overhead. They are going to land in the next small town and drop out of the clouds in anticipation. Sometimes, we don't hear them. It just depends on the type of plane, I suppose. Our home is not in a "flight pattern." The fountain is bubbling outside one window. It runs 24/7. Nice noise for sleeping.
     And pretty soon, probably closer to 8ish, I hear a train. The train tracks are 10 blocks from us, but if the wind is blowing just right, especially on clear days, we can hear it almost as if it is running down our street in front of our house. You can tell by the whistles which way it is heading. If it is coming from the south, going north, there is a set of whistles at a crossing in Oceano, one down the main street from us at the end of Grand Ave. and one in Pismo which is just north of us here in Grover Beach. Then it leaves the populated area and turns inland to San Luis Obispo and the train station. If it is coming from the north, heading south, you just hear the one in Pismo and the one on Grand Avenue. These are both passenger and freight trains. The freight trains roar right through Grover Beach but the passenger trains stop at a small depot down by the beach.
     I hear cars starting, people going to work or wherever else they are going; Starbucks maybe. And as I lay there listening, I hear birds chirping at the feeders and a couple of doves cooing from the wires above our house. By 8:30 I start to hear a lawn mower and then a leaf blower. A neighbor is starting to saw something in his back yard. A group of kids are walking down our street to the bus stop on the next block and the buses come and go; not past our house but they are loud enough to hear if you know what you are listening for.
     So, the title of this piece today is "Quiet." Funny, since all I've talked about are noises. But I laid there this morning and tried to realize what it would be like if we lived during a time when there were none of the other-than-nature sounds. My husband and I watch a TV show called Revolution. It is about the earth, after some catastrophe, without electricity; generators don't work, batteries don't work. Planes fell out of the skies, cars stopped and were left where they stopped. No radio, no TV, nothing mechanical works. I got to thinking what it would be like to wake up at a time like that. The dogs, yes I would hear them. The birds, hopefully. No traffic down Grande Ave., no deliveries, no trains, and if there were trains, they would be steam and probably not sound a whistle because there would be no cars to warn off the tracks. No fountain, no leaf blowers, no sawing noises coming from a neighbor's back yard. No planes, probably no Starbucks to go to. No big grocery stores because the buildings would be dark. We would revert to open air markets; maybe a good thing. But we would only be able to eat what we could grow and get locally, because there would be no container ships or cross country trucking. No water pumps or electric stoves. No water deliveries. Gee, you say, this would be a really hard life. A lot of people would die, especially once the stores of medicine ran out. No factories or chemical labs producing more.
     But on the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to NOT have some of the noises we live with every day? Horrible ring tones, loud buses, loud cars or motorcycles without mufflers. Teenager thumping their music from their car stereos, that you can hear blocks away? No leaf blowers or lawn mowers. The world would be quiet. Our brains would be quiet. Quiet... 

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