Peace and Quiet, by Libby Moore

We’ve had some gorgeous fall weather in western New York over the past few weeks, although today has reverted to the typical gray rain that I associate with November. The colors have been dazzling, brilliant golds and oranges and reds on maples and oaks and Bradford pears. Some trees have held their leaves until now, but most have dropped in a colorful mosaic, carpeting the lawns and streets and creating a gorgeous kaleidoscope of color. And of noise.

No matter how beautiful they are, those leaves can’t stay on the ground where they fall. Somebody’s got to suck them up with a giant vacuum cleaner attached to a tractor, or blow them across the lawn to the pile on the street, or mulch them with a riding mower. Whatever method they use, it causes loud whining, screaming, buzzing noises that shatter the quiet peacefulness of my daily walk through the neighborhood and along the canal. I find myself recoiling against the incessant noise, wondering why people can’t do this when I’m somewhere else.

My hearing aids amplify the high pitch of those kinds of noises, bringing them to the foreground and forcing me to notice. I discovered something on one of my recent walks, though, that I could just turn off the hearing aids and ignore the buzzing and whining. It felt like a whole new interior world, quiet in my head and peaceful. As I walked, I could quiet my mind, listen to my thoughts and to the still small voice within. It felt powerful, to be able to shut off the world like that.

But turnng off my hearing aids also limited my contact with the real world. I couldn’t hear the bicyclist calling “on your left” or the ducks quacking near the house where they get fed twice a day. I couldn’t carry on a conversation with the lady walking her lovely golden retriever. I missed the connections with people along the route.

So I turned the hearing aids back on and returned to the real world, which is where I live and interact and connect with people. The noise of the blowers and mowers and vacuums is just part of life in our part of the world at this time of the year, and I’m grateful for all of it, for the beauty, for the colors, for the people, and for their caring about their yards. May we care for one another with as much energy and diligence.

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