I live in a nice neighborhood. Lots of trees, a creek, hilly, in the summer you can’t see your neighbors. Like a lot of neighborhoods we have a mailing list to keep everyone in touch. There’s the usual lost dogs, requests for cooking ingredients, items needing new homes, etc. And, as in other places, Covid-19 has created a bit of strain on some folks and some people are a little edgier than usual. So there started a series of emails with people complaining about various noises. It started innocently enough with someone wondering why people had to mow their yards in the evening hours when young children with early bedtimes are trying to sleep. Well – I mean, it is COOLER in the evenings so it is a good time to mow but I see their point. But it started to escalate with people unhappy about any noises before and after certain hours on weekends, etc. Sunday mornings!!! I guess since they can’t go to church these days they’ve started to notice that other people do things around their houses on Sunday mornings. But they were even complaining about folks clapping and calling their dogs. OK. I get it – we’re all on edge these days.
Anyway – I wrote a response that seemed to stop the escalation and I’ll share it with you here:
To this day I can still hear the theme song of the Port Jefferson Fire Department Marching Band as they rehearsed summer evenings in the field below our house until well after dark. They played the same music every time so I guess they had it memorized. We didn’t have air conditioning at the time so it was always windows open and I had that godawful 8:00 bedtime – what were my parents thinking? It’s still light out! There’s still so much fun to be had!
It was a neighborhood much like this – houses surrounded by trees so you couldn’t see your neighbors in the summertime. But you could hear them. It was a hilly neighborhood so the sound traveled in surprising ways just as it does here. Lying in bed at night there was the sound of mowing, of late evening cookouts and people calling their dogs in for the night. Someone had a basketball hoop and someone practiced the trumpet. Fortunately there were no neighbors who played loud music that would send thudding bass notes through walls. Though I cringe when I think about how my sister and I cranked up the stereo during our teenage years on nights when our parents were out late. I’m sure there was talk about that but we didn’t have email back then.
In this neighborhood I enjoy the sounds of the person who sometimes plays the mandolin evenings down by the creek or the woman who sings beautifully before sunrise some mornings. There are conversations all around as people sit outside on nice nights. Though I don’t enjoy the leaf blowers (rakes and brooms are so much more efficient!) they are part of the neighborhood soundscape, too, as are the occasional not-very-quiet parties. Of course everyone is going to have different ideas about what is appropriate when but I say make good use of the light hours for work or play and enjoy the dark peacefully.