|Peace and quiet can be found here.|
When I moved to a rural area of Nova Scotia two things struck me immediately. One was how dark it was at night. Like a panther traversing a coal dust storm, the dark here slinks and oozes into every crack, crevasse and corner.
The night sky, unmarred by city lights, made up for any discomfort I felt. A brilliant universe blinking above, the likes of which city dwellers may never see.
The other thing that I noticed out here away from civilization was the almost complete lack of noise. After living in cities for most of my life I was used to constant sirens and traffic noise. We should never underestimate how constant low level sounds can affect our stress levels.
Studies have found that unwanted sound can cause stress and raise blood pressure, heart rates and levels of stress hormones. Cities hum and clang constantly, usually below our threshold of conscious awareness. A rumbling train locomotive can be heard for many kilometres in all directions.
Night is better, but city noise never stops.
Living out in the country means there is often a lack of noise, and at first, like the dark, I found it off-putting. Probably because we are social creatures and we take some comfort in being in aural proximity with others. Otherwise you have to wonder if you are the only person left on Earth.
After a while I became more comfortable with living under a cone of silence, and have even come to enjoy it a great deal. I can think better clear of auditory intrusions. I revel in the silence, broken only by natural, soothing sounds, like the wind, or bird calls, or a brook during a spring freshet.
Then the silence is broken by a jet flying overhead, one source of noise pollution that is hard to avoid, regardless of where you are on the globe. The noise from large passenger jets can travel up to 160km (100 miles). There is no altitude they can fly at which they are not audible, and the sound of any given flyby can be heard for up to eight minutes. Definitely an unwanted intrusion.
Sound ecologists remind us that while zero decibels is difficult to come by, there are still many places one can find that are notable for their natural sounds rather than those of civilization. I live in one such place.
Peace and quiet. Priceless.