Posts tagged traffic noise

Wishing You Tidings of Frenzy, Noise and Materialism

I am a procrastinator when it comes to Christmas. Every year, I hide the idea of Christmas away in a closet and refuse to listen to its protestations. Next thing you know, it breaks down the door and then runs me over like a steam roller. And I end up looking like this little guy by the time Boxing Day rolls around.

This is how I felt

…except for the smile.

Every year in about October, I rebel against the materialism that surrounds the holiday by refusing to think about it, shop for it or plan for it in any way. It used to be that Remembrance Day was observed first and Christmas preparations followed. When the shift in commercialism came on strong about 10 years ago, I also shifted.

Nowadays, it can easily be Dec 20th before I start considering putting up a tree or thinking about maybe playing one or two Christmas songs (and even then only certain classics are permitted). When school is let out for the break, I suddenly become overwhelmed with panic. What gifts will I get for family and friends? How will Canada Post ever get these packages to distant family in time? (they never do, btw) Didn’t I resolve to send out timely Christmas cards last year?

And, as if by surprise, the big day arrives and I have managed to get the bare necessities done in the half-ass slap-dash job that has sadly become my new tradition.

Oh!  Christmas Tree!

Oh! Christmas Tree!

This year was no different, except in that FM and I left our recently holiday-decorated rural home, complete with forest-found Christmas tree, and spent the five days surrounding Christmas back in the big city we had so recently fled. We shuttled ourselves from friend to friend to family to family, trying to see everyone and sleeping in a different bed most nights. As we drove like madmen back and forth across the multiple cities which make up MetroVancouver, I felt completely over-stimulated by lights, noise and traffic. By the end of it, when Boxing Day rolled around, I was numb.

On our return to the island, as we approached the Queendom, we were greeted with about a foot of new snow and the house, despite being only 16 C inside, was pleasingly lit up with amber Christmas lights (on a timer, don’t ya know?). Once we got the woodstove going and settled down on the couch with a home-crafted brew, we focussed on reacquainting our brains to the sound of silence and adjusting to the lack of pressure to be somewhere soon.

Peace, Comfort and Joy!

Peace, Comfort and Joy!

The funny part of this whole situation is that driving all over the city to be with our families over Christmas is nothing new.  We have been doing this same Christmas routine for almost 20 years.  The change this year is only in ourselves. It is almost as if moving to the Queendom has slowed down our metabolism and heightened our senses.

Our family traditions of this holiday season will not be changing for many, many years. So we will learn to embrace the frenzy of the season with our dear friends and families and know that Peace and Joy will be waiting for us at the Queendom for the 360 other days of the year!

Happy New Year to you and thank you for visiting!

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The Sound of Silence is a Puzzlement Indeed

It was a sunny weekend in mid-spring and it was lunch time. After a morning of busily unpacking here and organizing there, we convened on the porch for lunch. A few bites in, FM says

“Shhh.  Do you hear that?”

I stopped chewing and strained my ears to hear what he was hearing.

 “It sounds like traffic on the highway”, he coached.

Now I could hear it too. It was far away but there was a definite whoosh, as if cars were driving quickly on a rain-wet road. There is a main road just to the east of us which does get the odd car driving at 80+ kph but this whoosh was coming from the west.

“Could it be the Island Highway?”

But that didn’t make sense either since it is about 6km west of us, too far for sound to carry.

“Maybe if the wind was blowing just right, we could hear the highway”

“But it hasn’t rained recently.  The highway would be dry”

“Maybe it is the Tsolum River.  It isn’t far from here.  Maybe it’s a big river.”

We carried on listening and trying to figure out if this was a sound to be concerned about. In a way, I didn’t want to find the answer because FM tends to fret about noises. His tolerance of noise (like airliners flying overhead or traffic on a highway or car stereos thumping) is low and we had moved here specifically to get away from the stress that noise brings.

He decided that further investigation was required so we put on our running shoes and went on a neighbourhood run. The key purpose was to check out the Tsolum River, which flows about 3 blocks west of our house, and to see if water was the sound we could occasionally hear. To our surprise, we arrived at a municipal park that had a sign describing a community clean-up of this river and park in 1986. We happily left the pavement and hit the trails, heading down to the river’s edge. There we found a small trickle of a stream. Even after the heavy spring rains, the Tsolum river remained shallow and could easily be forded with three or four wet steps. This could not be the source of  ‘the noise’.

After a lovely run which helped to further develop our understanding of our new surroundings, we arrived back home. As we removed our shoes, I listened again for ‘the noise’.

“I think it is the wind swishing through the poplar leaves”

Copse of Poplar trees on our island

Indeed, the copse of poplar trees on our pond’s island is now fully leafed out. When a gust of wind comes, the leaves seem to instantly come to life and then, as quickly, become still. With your eyes closed, it is easy to imagine that a car is driving by, but with your eyes open you are treated to the spring green leaves fluttering before you can even detect a breeze yourself.

The deafening noise of the wind in the poplar leaves

FM and I had a good chuckle over this discovery. In this moment, I realized that it will take a while to shed off the stress of city life. We still seem to be on guard for something to go wrong with this move. The saying goes “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Give us a little bit longer to figure out if the saying is true or not.

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