Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Army Of Gardeners
Originally uploaded by Joe Shlabotnik.
It's been a month since I wrote last. I guess nothing has really caught my attention enough to write. However today is Tuesday, the day the gardeners come to our condo complex. That reminded me that I've been wanting to write about NOISE for a long time. (The picture isn't from here. I'm assuming ours have questionable residency, so I won't embarrass them.) Tuesdays I have to keep windows and doors closed if I want to talk with someone on the phone (or event think.) Tuesdays I can't even use the pool, because they seem to pick the time I want to swim to carefully blow every last leaf from the perimeter of the pool. I tried once, but I had to swim on my back the whole time to keep my ears under water!

So every Tuesday we get leaf blowers, lawn movers, tree trimmers and other noisemakers. And they're not just noisemakers. The beds around the condos are swept down to bare earth. Outside ours, the surface of the ground is about 5 inches lower than the bottom of the patio wall. I assume the dirt has been blown off! So a couple of times a year they go around adding blue fertilizer to replace all the great nutrients they've blown off.

When I have a garden, I put all the leaves in the garden as mulch, which keeps in the water and finally provides nutrients as well. What's the sense in removing perfectly good mulch?

Cambridge sans leafblowers.
Originally uploaded by janrem.
I have complained to the Management Service about the leaf blowers, and even suggested that we put in landscaping that doesn't need so much water, pesticides, fertilers and care. So far they have actually spread a little more mulch around in the beds, and they don't chase every last leaf out of them either. I've also seen a few rakes in action, too, like in this picture (which I also found on Flickr.) I have even discovered that I can now sweep a few leaves from the patio into the beds and they get to stay there as potential mulch.

I may be particularly sensitive to noise, but how about the neighbor's boom box which appears to be on the common wall with our living room?

Or the time I was captive audience to a very loud preacher while I was waiting under a long curved canopy in line to get checked before reporting to jury duty. He loved the location - lots of potential convertees, and an incredible reverberating sound. Sort of like singing in the shower, with audience.

Of course in an area with condos and apartments like this there are car alarms going off regularly. And about every other condo here has a little yappy dog in the patio all day, announcing every single person walking by, like me, or the Parcel Post man, the Mormon missionaries - or maybe even real intruders. They don't seem to bark at the gardeners though any more.

And the noise to top all other noises happens about every other night usually after I go to bed. Behind our condo are the loading docks for a shopping mall, connected to the parking areas. The street cleaner guy comes and uses this area as a starting place to sweep the entire parking lot, sometime between 11 pm and 4 am, apparently with no particular plan. Now usually this is just slight background noise, because the bedroom is on the other side. But if I'm tossing and turning for some reason (my restless legs, usually) I go sleep on a couch in my office, which looks out over this area. And it seems like he always picks one of those nights to do his noisy stuff.

Or how about the weekends when the local airfield does airshows, with little planes swooping down over us, or the nights when the police helicopters are out looking for someone (who is probably hiding under the tree on our patio.)

I should get some earplugs, I know, but it would be nice to live in a world where this wasn't necessary!

Like we experienced this summer we spent a week at a cottage on a lake in Maine (I'm sure there's a post about it somewhere here.) During the week, the only boats on the lake were canoes and kayaks, and the only noise was screaming campers from the girls' camp far across the lake. Nights were absolutely quiet except for an occasional loon calling. Some of our visitors found it too quiet! But come weekend, everyone had his jetskis, motorboats and other noisemakers out in full force. Good day to climb the mountain.

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