Quiet, can you stand it in Maine?
When you live next to an city airport, near the elevated train overhead or subway that rumbles under foot. The clanging of garbage trucks on a steady beat to stay ahead of the rubbish. In a place that never sleeps. Quiet does not happen. Without ear plugs, sound proofing, something to replace the sounds of the city.
Sirens wailing up and down numbered grids of street. With police cars, paddy wagons zinging by. Fighting crime, chasing gangs.
Towing illegally or expired meter parked cars to an impound. Hospital ambulances pretty much running round the clock.
Cabbies hollering, honking. Trading paint. Jockeying for position in the stopped dead in tracks. As tempers flare. But the meter still runs. Bleeds out.
Proving the point for their fare in the backseat of the chariot. That they will fight hard and long. To get to that loading gate for your important flight on the silver bird.
Cities are noisy, dirty, crowded, disconnected, impersonal.
Sure everyone feels good coming out of a sporting venue when the city team won. Maybe the barley pops trigger that letting down the guard. But the pace combined with the sense of crime constantly makes one pretty self contained, careful. Don’t make eye contact, just do what you have to do with safe consistency. I think you could be very lonely in a city.
There are city sections you avoid late at night. Your Combat Zones, outskirts of a Miami, Washington DC, etc all have areas where it is not to so safe. Any time of the day. Crime happens, spreads. You hear gun fire, see folks yelling, road rage erupt. Stop signs in neighborhoods you are advised to roll through. Don’t stop and stay down, low in the car. But keep moving. DO NOT STOP.
Being careful, on your toes. Not so trusting is a constant when leaving that dead bolt, extra chain, security camera with a rent a cop compound.
Relax. Breathe. Maine is not that way at all.
All that is gone. It can be a shock and the quiet can be deafening. So if you find yourself lucky enough to squirrel away the time. High tail it to Maine. Often. WARNING :The peace and quiet can be unnerving until you adjust. Figure out what is missing. Nothing is wrong. Go easy. But expect it.
Otherwise it takes time to get beyond the fish out of water feeling you can not put your finger on right away. So foreign. You forget there is another way to roll.
Where I live in Maine we don’t lock doors.
Everyone makes eye contact. You kinda, sorta know most of the people you see. Or someone connected to them. Through work, marriage, church, civic club, your kids. Maybe working a local event experience. You bump into the members of a small group more often in a cozy Maine town. Not swallowed up in the masses, the sea of people that a city comes with. Where just the law of average, probability make the chance meetings less likely.
Keys are in the vehicles ready to fire up, take a spin in Maine. But we try to walk, bike, use our own power. To enjoy being outside, more aware of our surroundings. Not belted in and doing the 10 and 2. Checking the rear view and watching the speed. Or kids connected to balls racing out into traffic when the sun is in the wrong place.
Take a day or two to come to Maine.
End up feeling like someone turned off the high pitch motors. Or the power went out. All the compressors, music, fans, people yacking, whatever suddenly stopped. Like someone must have clipped a utility pole. All the noise in the background that you forget about until someone shuts it off. When you decide a trip to Maine to unplug, recharge is needed. Where you can hear yourself think if you can stand the quiet. Or learn to turn up the hearing. Realize those are crickets, lake frogs and loons, morning birds singing.
In a completely different way, the sound of your surroundings from a city does a 180 in Maine.
The sounds of the urban concrete jungle replaced with a lake lapping against the shore line rocks. A stream babbles, gurgles while you cast a line fly fishing. A river forced to push through rapids from a dam release of too much water creates mist, velocity. Noise to laugh, shout over. As you paddle hard left, hold. Hang on. The bottom drops out of the rubber boat.
If the Maine lake, pond is not bottle polished, completely still, calm. It adds background music as you glide in a kayak. Churn the “j” strokes in a canoe.
The breeze in the pines whispering or humming. Wildlife surround you but out of sight. The birds practice their parts in outdoor songs. Maybe the lack of outside noises lets hear your own inner singing. You’re happy and you know it. (Clapping hands). That gets drowned out when quiet is not part of your routine.
But in Maine where crime ranks in 4th lowest for the nation, you may miss the sirens.
The flow of wall to wall sound of people coming and going. Traffic, car doors, construction, just all around banging and thrashing. Added to the pace. The hurry scurry chasing the dollar. Cities are expensive.
You don’t grow fresh garden food in a garden in an apartment cooperative. Sure you could have a topsy turvy tomato hanging plant or two hanging. Maybe sneak up on the roof and pull off a raised bed garden plot. But you don’t heat with wood you cut, split. Stack for a winter ahead when you have an address in the city population center. You give up much. It becomes store bought. Put in the coin to keep the machine running. Like life support, hooked to expensive hoses, wires. Tethered.
Maine is free, wide open, no or low cost.
That means you are relieved of so much worry from the no crime to no mortgage and more self sufficient living. You feel empowered and self confident. Your self esteem soars because you realize you can achieve much, do greater good in a smaller community where you are really needed. You are the small community in Maine. Not an outside, participant of events but on the committee putting them on. Year after year.
If you live in Maine you get it.
Pull up a lawn chair or something to sit on. Hey, slide that cooler over here. In front of a crackling fire with a circle of other campers. Use that. This is a shared experience blog post.
Preaching to the choir. And trying not to preach at all. But espouse the merits of just living simply in rural Maine. When the mechanics, dynamics of life are stripped down to bare bones. It opens up space for what is really of value. No distractions, deeper appreciation, a sense of joy inside. Jack of all trades working on more skills in the set. That is home grown, built by you. Not for you. Nothing to throw money at to achieve. More blood, sweat, tears and patience involved in the home grown, self directed.
Knowing what you have is more than enough. Being grateful. And all because it is not too noisy to mess it up, miss out on the real natural sounds of Maine.