Moving from the old year to the New Year

I have been neglecting this blog for quite some time now.  It isn’t that I’ve been busy – quite the opposite.  I guess I haven’t been busy enough.  I’ve written several blog entries, but owing to one reason or another just never posted them.  Here is one of them:

When I was lying flat on my back while recovering from a fall a while back, I honed my hearing enough to find out many things about my house that I didn’t know.  For instance, the water softener makes a gurgling sound that normally takes place around three in the morning.  With my odd hours of waking and sleep, I kept hearing it and wondering what it was

Pretty much every night, there appears to be some sort of small animal that roams around our back yard.  As soon as the dog behind us starts to bark, our cat springs into action.  She goes completely bonkers (an animal medical term meaning ‘taken leave of its senses’) and runs around the house with a tail the size of a large zucchini.  Everything (and I mean everything) in that cat’s path gets shredded; including anyone (me) lying on a bed in the living room.  It’s not that she jumps up on me but more that she allows herself to slowly move down the wall as she’s making the rounds of the living room.  Much the same as those old motorcycle daredevils that roared around “The Wall of Death”.  The hearing part of this rambling is her making noises like a chipmunk of steroids.  Sort of an Ekk-Ekk sound, but only when she’s got her nose within two inches of my ear AND I’m asleep

The toilet in the master bathroom needs a new valve seal as it will occasionally run for ten seconds and then shut back down

The clock above the television ticks very loudly when the TV isn’t on

The rest of the sounds in and around the house have been catalogued at least enough to keep me from wondering that they are

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All this is leading up to the substance of this post: What were the sounds you liked best about each season when you were in your childhood – say from eight to fourteen.  In my case, that would have been from 1950 to 1956.  I’ll start with summer

Summertime, especially in Washington, D.C., can, to be charitable, be rather hot.  From dawn, or shortly before it, the first things I heard were the chirring of the locusts in the trees surrounding the house.  That noise would continue throughout the day, providing background to everything you did outside.  Next would come the cawing of crows as they soared over those same trees trying to wake their brethren for another day.  Since school was out, kids would begin their shouting and running about.  In the late afternoon, there would be the tinkling of the ice cream truck as it made it’s rounds.  Finally, as it grew dark, more kid sounds as they played their games until the call for a late dinner

Towards fall, other sounds would begin to appear.  In the woods not too far away, chain saws would begin to snort and bellow their way through fallen trees.  The wind, which usually stayed away during the summer, would begin to blow and sigh through treetops and rattle shutters.  Soon, that sound would be augmented by the rustling of leaves as they try to infiltrate the back porch, only to slide down the screening.  The end of summer was always signaled over at my neighbor’s house by the running of a water pump as it drained their pool for yet another year.  A sad sound which usually ran for nearly a complete day because the pump was small and he didn’t want to create a swamp in his back yard.  Once school started, busses would blat and fart around corners to halt and pick up glum-looking kids dressed in sweaters and, later, parkas.

The crystal-clear cold of winter was almost a non-sound.  Only when it is a very early morning with no wind can you hear the scurry of snow as it rattles across the surface of older snow which has crusted overnight.  Leaves, those that stubbornly remained on trees, begin falling and rattling dryly against windows.  On weekends, the shouts, taunts, and general noise created by what seems to be hundreds of kids on a nearby sledding hill would invade the white countryside.  An occasional car can be heard passing by, slipping and sliding, on the unplowed tar road in front of the house.  Dusk falls early during this season and, soon after doing so, I could hear the measured crunch of my father’s footsteps as he walked from car to house.

Perhaps my favorite audio time of the year is spring.  This is when the cold, snippy winds of winter give way to an equal, but opposite, wind of promise.  If a person is outside, he will hear the sounds of birds in the trees after their long absence.  First comes the hardy birds, no songbirds, but steady, workaholic birds who are scouting places to raise their families.  As leaves begin to sprout, more colorful birds appear.  These you can hear simply by lying on the ground in your front yard and closing your eyes.  They make small skittering sounds as they hop to and fro, testing each fork on the limb for nest suitability.  Once found, they call to mates “come look, come look – I’ve found the perfect place!”  They say it in chirps and tweedles, but you understand them anyway.  On the last day of school, the expectant chatter of my friends as they jump off the bus for the last time this year makes me take heart that there really is a life after Suitland Elementary School.

Now, as a new year creeps up on me in less than five hours, I wish everyone good tidings in the upcoming year.

T.O.M

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