March 31, 2017

Peace And Quiet

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.


  1. I increased the quiet around here by canceling my land line. It felt like I was paying so people could harrass me. Absolutely everything becomes a medium for the advertisers. I already notice the peace of not having to screen calls. I did it to counter the increase in my wifi bill. My former job had all kinds of ringing phones, so I enjoy the quiet even more.

    1. Annie,

      I remember when Linda and I got rid of our land line and pre-digital answering machine (that we were trying to make last as long as we could). The mechanism of the machine was so loud and clicky that even with the sound turned off it was still a major intrusion in our small apartment. We replaced it with a cell phone that is now turned off for most of the day.

      Any phone is an invitation to harassment. I finally told my bank to NEVER call me unless there is a problem with my account. No, I don't want to hear you trying to up-sell me several times a month. Go away, please.

  2. Oh how envious I am of your quiet and solitude. Over the past several years the encroaching urban sprawl has taken over our senses. We used to hear cows, donkeys and chickens along with bird song. Now it's rumbling of motors and sirens day and night. I wish to see the night sky just once more before I die, but the light pollution here makes that impossible. Gone the wild life that wandered through our yard, at least in numbers that I can see. It makes my heart break.

    As for the phone, we still have a landline and it rings constantly. Never anything that is actually for us, just an intrusion into home from people trying to scam and sell us things. They know that many elderly people still have landlines and they prey on them. I have a cell phone, but I turn it on infrequently. That's the way to go.

  3. Anonymous3/31/2017

    I agree with Marla, I am very envious. Growing up in Oregon, a huge state, there were only 2 million in the whole state. Now there are 2.3 million in just the Portland metro area where I live. And constant city noise. Most of the time it is OK, guess I tune it out. But when I read about the quiet you have...I realize the noise I live in, and dream of moving to a quiet place. Enjoy what you have, along with that darkness and the ability to see the stars so well - what a gift. -Mary

  4. As soon as I logged on all I could see were the words Peace and Quiet. How funny that I felt myself immediately relax - just looking at those two suggestive words! We live in a growing city. When we moved here 35 years ago there were no main roads near our house. Now there is a 6 lane highway on the other side of a vacant 2 acre lot behind us - roaring cars, motorcycles, sirens, down shifting semi trucks - ugh. I have been trying to convince my husband (a man who hates change) to move for years because the house is too large for just two of us and because of the noise which I absolutely find stressful and irritating. At this point I'm longing to live a spartan life in a very small home surrounded by the quiet of the woods with as few people around as possible. Unfortunately we have a simple, successful business and our kids all live here so we're not going anywhere, but I'm still campaigning for a move to a quieter area in town. Enjoy your peace, quiet, solitude, nature and darkness for all of us and keep blogging about it!


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