GAYS MILLS - As the summer winds down, the sounds outside my window have begun to change.
It’s funny, living in a place that is generally so quiet–the sounds that come into your house to which you become accustomed. The sounds that you rely on to determine the time of day or certain scenarios that may be awaiting you outside.
The return of the school year has brought with it the sound of the big yellow bus barreling past my house. In the morning, of these days of getting up early before my long commute, I know it means ‘Hurry up or you’re going to be late!’ without even glancing at the clock.
In the throws of summer, we are fortunate enough to have a whippoorwill that often lands close enough for us to listen to it all night. Since we moved here, it feels like a treat when we hear the first calls. I am glad to know the bird, or its brood made it back for another round in Wisconsin. By the end of the summer though, I find its call gets less noticeable, except for on nights when I lay awake and my mind is unable to turn off. When I finally settle enough to near sleep, it’s usually then I hear it calling once more.
But the beloved bird has now departed and I find myself avoiding reading the articles circulating social media about how they are disappearing. Because, I must admit, the bird’s presence really adds a certain allure to our sometimes odd, occasionally challenging, owner-built home.
For the last couple of years, we have endured the bark, bark, bark of our old hound dog, Bud.
When he first moved in with us, he liked to stand in front of our bedroom window and bark and scratch at our window. We would get up, and let the old beast in the house only to have him bark, bark, bark 20 minutes later to go back outside.
Unfortunately though, a few weeks ago, the barking stopped. Bud faded off into the doggie ethers.
Rest assured, he died a good hound dog death. In his last days as he appeared to be going down, he still took pleasure in sitting at his post in the yard and watching traffic go by, and even eating a rabbit we suspect he managed to catch and he expired lying in his burrow–in the shade.
Now though, that we do not have a dirty ol’ hound barking at everything and anything, we’ve had a plethora of other critters move in.
When Thatcher still had his little pool set up, that included a family of raccoons right outside of our window. I suppose all families have their differences, but usually we try not to argue in the yard in the middle of the night. But that was exactly what these critters were doing.
If you’ve never been treated to a screaming family of raccoons splashing and carrying on while you’re trying to get some shuteye, you’re lucky. For these little fuzzy bandits are loud! Loud enough that Chasca the heavy snoring, sleep-through-the-baby-creaming-and-three-alarms, sleeper had to even get up and close the window to drown out the critters.
Thatcher still hasn't noticed, by some miraculous chance, that Bud has died, so the conversation about getting another dog is usually done in private. Although we thought at first not having another critter to attend to might be a relief, the arguing raccoons has us thinking twice. So, another addition to the family is yet to be determined.
As fall inches closer and closer, we will be greeted with the ping, ping, ping of acorns pelting the woodstove that sits dormant outside of our window. And the slap of wood being stacked and arranged neatly in a pile next to it.
Soon the only sounds we will hear will be the sound of the snowplow, signaling its safe to venture outside. Or the crash of sheets of ice sliding off of the roof letting us know the sun poked out.It’s hard to imagine ever living in a noisy busy town, and recalling the struggle I had adjusting to the quiet again. I’ll certainly take a family full of raccoons arguing over who gets to swim in the baby pool over the sounds of traffic any evening.