Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

The noise, oh the noise, noise, noise. no i am not the grinch above whoville on christmas eve. But that is the way i often feel. and it is not the noise of laughter or merry-making that makes me want to hide my head away, but of the machines, the machines, called cars and trucks, that penetrate the soundscape.

I climb up high, but still i hear the dull roar beneath. I walk the paths, beside the river, but in the narrow canyon, that too, is the locale of the highway, the one that runs from east to west. the town is at the confluence of roads and rivers, and the second highway runs through the center, is the busy four-lane main street, and that is where i stay. the traffic that moves along, heaviest in the morning and evening as the workers make their commute up valley, but it is ever-present, and i feel it. I hear it, and feel the vibrations almost everywhere, i cannot hide, earplugs will not do, for i feel it in my cells and bones. This is it.

I had wanted a quiet mountain town, the ones that exist in the imagination – so it seems. I have stopped in Glenwood Springs, CO and the place is anything but quiet. And i should have known as i looked at the map and saw the roads around, something that had occurred to me before, and i had not come here, but something i ignored this time around.

I wake up to the roar as commuters drive alone, each in their individual vehicle, creating this soundscape. In the evening, i sit out front on the porch with another, and we must yell so that our voices are heard; conversation becomes difficult. I go to the hotsprings, but it is there too. The river, where the birds can be heard, and for a moment i am away, not completely, but still. I walk up a trail, views below, of the town and the roads, but also of the mountains, and i imagine what it was like before. In the supermarket the hum disappears; it is set back a bit, a well constructed solid building with musak playing inside. But where i stay, an old wooden home, it is loud – and the home feels it too, foundations cracked and more. And the noise penetrates my foundations, cracking them, vibrating inside.

This is the sound of our lives – machine, motors hum; tires over concrete, there is often no escape from the noise pollution that penetrates our lives. I have sought to escape, but find myself back here. I have travelled cities and byroads of the country, see sub-divisions built along the highways, highways so large they make these look like country roads. Walls as sound barriers build along side, but they do not stop the dull roar, perhaps contain it a bit. But it is there.

I noticed it when i arrived and got off the train. But then it stopped, or slowed. An accident on the main highway, the I-70, and the cars were ‘parked’ and many could not enter town, or turn onto the highway upvalley. But it is here, and louder and more pervasive than i

Get used to it – i hear. perhaps i have been lucky to hear the silence, or the sounds of nature, calming and uplifting to the spirit – the roar of the ocean is different, as is the rush of a stream or river. The calls of animals and birds, even crows, is not at metallic as this – the machines take over. yes, earplugs shut it out, but they shut out all if they work, the beauty as well, and i do not want to make myself deaf. I could the ipod, the tv, the sounds that enter in, a sound healing or noise pollution, but headphones on the street further to the disconnection.  And in putting up sound walls, we all become disconnected, and continue to create this, pretend it is not there.

I pull in and withdraw, as i do when i walk down busy streets, where the main noise if of cars, not stopping, no ebb and flow, but continuing. Where the sounds of other life are muted or drowned out. And that is the key, the other sounds are mainly absent and the din dominates all.

 My body tenses, and i feel it. i feel the vibrations, it is not merely through the ears; it is through the whole body. And it scrambles me, and i feel like i have entered a fishbowl in hell. And there are fewer and fewer places to get away.

Perhaps it is louder here, and it is not just my imagination. Just as valleys can become containers for air pollution, perhaps they can become containers for sound, the waves bouncing back off the mountain walls, reverberating, not dissipating, forming a field of their own. With the thinner air at this elevation, perhaps they travel faster and penetrate with greater ease.

The quiet small town i imagined, is anything but quiet, and so many places are like this. I think of a walk in the redwoods, above Santa Cruz, or camping on the oregon coast the traffic that i heard, the traffic that the trees and birds and plants felt. I remember the cities of Mexico and Central America where the traffic took over, and i quickly became scrambled. I think of other towns, Eugene comes to mind, and large cities, where the highways cut through, and you cannot get away.

What does it do to us?  In the beginning was the word. What is the vibration of the “words” we have created, those of the car age. When we encase ourselves in them, turn on the music, we blot it out, unaware of what we emit. but it is here – all – pervasive so it seems. So many studies of noise pollution, but we often overlook the all-pervasive din. Sound has the ability to heal and harm, and what is this background noise of our lives? How to change it – or is escape the only answer? And how to remove myself without a car and adding to the din?

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