2008-07-10 / News

How 'bout a little quiet?

Flotsam and Jetsam
By Donna Drago

I live in the noisiest place in Jamestown.

Bucolic, pastoral, peaceful- the "jewel of the bay." These are all words people use to describe this beautiful island we all call home. And beautiful it is, but only if you wear earplugs.

I can't imagine that there is a noisier corner in Pawtucket, Cranston or Providence that can rival the all-day cacophony that exists right outside my gate.

On Walcott Avenue the day starts early.

Walkers, runners and people with dogs are out by 6 a.m. With my windows open, I can hear every conversation and I marvel at the people who come by talking on their cell phones at that hour.

The pick-up trucks of the gainfully employed begin the race south to the boatyards, to the DEM building or to the current highway facility, at Ft. Wetherill, before 7 a.m. Shortly thereafter, big trucks, of various sorts, full of highway workers, race back north into town. Diesel motored boat-hauling rigs come up and down the street all day and when they get to the top of the hill, they hit a large divot in the road and their trailers "bump," or "bang," at each axel.

By 8 a.m. the landscapers show up and begin to manicure the large yards on both sides of the street. First it's the mowers, then the weedwhackers. Then come the edgers or the hedge-trimmers, or the chippers, which all have their own distinct sound. Finally, the blowers organize everything into a nice pile, which the landscapers rake into a bin and then they drive off. It would be great if every house on the block got their landscape guys to come on the same day, but I suppose that would be asking for too much.

The middle of the day includes more of the same. Trucks going south; trucks going north. "Bump, bang," in the pothole in the road.

In the late afternoon, when the teens wake up, they arrive on the top of my hill with their skateboards for a white-knuckle ride down the hill into town as fast as they can. It's not their knuckles that are white- it's mine. Occasionally one will get a buddy who knows how to drive a car to come pick him up opposite my house. The skateboarder will then hold on to the outside of the driver's open window and let himself be towed down the hill at breakneck speeds. This without helmet or padding of any kind. Much whooping and laughing accompanies this activity, which has got to be illegal.

After the day is done and work lets out, the activities reverse themselves.

Highway department workers return the big trucks to the barn and pick up their personal vehicles for the round trip past my house. The boat hauling rigs go back to their boatyards, presumably to reload for tomorrow's activities.

The dog walkers, runners and cyclists return for another shift on the sidewalks.

The local wildlife also gets in on the noise act. Somewhere between midnight and 2 a.m. the squealing of raccoons is closely followed by the sounds of garbage cans rolling on the driveway. The house sparrows that nest in the eaves of my house begin talking to each other at exactly 3:45 a.m. Once one starts chirping his little wake up call, they all have something to add to the conversation. During the day, the crows are the clear winners of the noise competition, with the cat birds coming in a close second.

The weekends are a bit different. The highway department and DEM are quiet.

There are still walkers, runners, and cyclists enjoying the summer air and the views. The major differences on weekends, especially on Sundays, are the motorcycles. Last Sunday, for example, about 100 "hogs," came by in a parade to Ft. Wetherill. With the air conditioning on and the windows closed, at first it sounded like an earthquake- the house was even shaking! I opened the front door to see what was going on and there they were- chrome as far as the eye could see. This activity was closely followed by fighter jets performing in the Quonset Air Show. This only happens one weekend a year, but after the Harley Davidson parade, I was none too amused. Another of the weekend "regulars," is the small fleet of single-engine planes that tow advertising banners over the hoards of tourists in Newport. After each pass they circle back over the bay- to my house- before returning for another sweep of First Beach or some noisy festival at Ft. Adams- I can hear them, too.

Now, I don't really have anything against air shows, biker groups, house sparrows, raccoons, highway department workers, boat haulers, crows or joggers. Not really. Individually, their respective noises are tolerable. It's just that they all come by, all the time, making their various noises and causing me to think that I truly live in the noisiest place in Jamestown. Funny thing is: I wouldn't trade it for any other spot in the world.

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