The waterfall over my pond helps drown out the noise from the street at the hill’s foot. I can still hear the train engine switching an industrial park a mile or so away. And yes, I listen to sirens far away.

These ambient noises are not as challenging as I was used to in New York City. Nor can they compare with my woodcarving studio in Boston, beside a railroad yard. Every boxcar with a lousy wheel reverberated throughout the neighborhood. No wonder girlfriends insisted on their place

By contrast, coastal Maine gave me the willies initially. Too silent. After the sun went down, the ambient sound came from wind, trees, and a rare car going by on the road below. Sometimes I just wanted to go outside and make noise. But I became used to it. 

I moved to Philly for grad school and had to readjust to street noise.

Years later, I returned to Maine to teach periodically. Every visit, the first half of the first night, I spent listening to the quiet.

I like collecting soundscapes. I am privileged to experience them where the hearing impaired struggle. It’s not something I ever wish to take for granted.

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