The insensitivity of sound

Most of the time, I’m in love with sound.

Birdsong is sweet enough to make me weep. The shuffle of wind through the trees, different at different times of the year, is like a whisper of nearly comprehensible voices. Waves lapping on the shore provides a delightfully monotonous easing of tension.

Most especially, the sound of my husband’s guitar, stroked tremblingly to life as his hands roam softly or wildly across the strings. Others’ songs, his own songs, always guaranteed to make me stop whatever I’m doing to let the sounds seep inside.

It is now, however, the season of insensitive sounds. It’s the 4th of July. With it comes the celebratory noise of fireworks, tolerated because of the beauty that accompanies them and their brief duration; and the absolute insensitivity of fire crackers, which as far as I can tell, exist only for the noise.

Some people, obviously, consider this good sound, too. They explode them regardless of the time of night, ignoring the fact that some people need to get up early and are trying to sleep; and that some animals are terrified of them. My beagle is one of them.

Makes no sense, I suppose. Beagles are supposed to be hunting dogs who are comfortable with the sound of gunfire. Not Lady. She wants no part of it. The first time she heard gunshots after coming to us from the humane society, we were out for a walk. She turned around immediately and headed for home, tail down, head down, seeking safety as quickly as she could.

She has the same reaction to the firecrackers. As soon as they begin to explode, near to home and farther away, she heads for cover–under my desk if I’m sitting there; thisclose to me if I’m on the couch; on the bed if we’ve already turned in for the night.

I could grudgingly accept the obnoxious sounds for the sake of holiday revelry if it were limited to the holiday. But no, these insensitive sounds intrude both day and night long before the 4th and long afterward.

Noise for the sake of noise has no charm for me. I realize that it does for others. But, like second-hand smoke, it intrudes into the lives of those who haven’t asked for it, and, worse, on those like Lady who don’t even understand it. I’d be happy if firecrackers were illegal again, as they still are in some states. Or, at the least, that those who use them would limit their useage.

That, however, would require sensitive people.




About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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4 Responses to The insensitivity of sound

  1. Patty Gross says:

    I wholeheartedly agree, Monica! Drzl was terrified tonight by the millionaires who live here a couple of months out of the year at their private estate down the road. They set them off whenever they feel like it. No one is going to stop them….they’re the very wealthy! And, yes, it is illegal in Maine. If I did it, I’m sure the sheriff’s deputy would be at my door. Poor Drzl was a basket case for about an hour… are so right, they don’t understand!

    • Monica says:

      I’m discovering that a very many dogs are afraid of fireworks and fire crackers. I’m sorry for all of them. We’ll just have to comfort our little pals as best we can, eh?

  2. gtrgeorge51 says:

    I woke up in Chicago this morning at about 5 AM, and as I was getting dressed and packed to drive back home, I heard them going off occasionally… unbelievable.

    This is an absolutely right-on article, but maybe you should be prepared for some of those “What’s-wrong-with-you” comments…

    • Monica says:

      I’ve been prepared for them, George. So far, I’m amazed to discover how very many dogs are affected by these noises, judging from the positive remarks I’ve had here and at Facebook.

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