BEEP! Summer sounds need a new scale
Monday, July 14, 2014 8:20 AM
The Fourth of July holiday played out a little bit differently for me this year – and it was truly enjoyable.
This is but a small part of the major street and utility project in Preston this summer. The location is Main Street west of St. Paul Street. You can see some of the excavating equipment used, as well as the blue water hose. LISA BRAINARD/BLUFF COUNTRY READER
I was able to sit back and luxuriate in the sounds of silence as workers took time off over the holiday. It was certainly a treat given the “war zone” now encompassing perhaps a quarter of the city of Preston with ongoing street and utility projects.
I live in the heart of it, not all that far from where the old bricks covering one block of Main Street are being pulled up in anticipation of an up-to-date, non-bumpy paving.
I guess somewhere along the way the city got behind on scheduling upgrade and replacement projects, so a lot of streets in Preston needed work. And if streets are torn up, it only makes sense to do any other utility projects, such as sanitary sewer improvements, before the new streets are constructed.
It’s one of those things where you will say, “it certainly looks nice and it’s such an improvement” when all is said and done. But until then – it’s another story completely.
I congratulate Preston City Council members for finally taking the project on in an all-encompassing way. I’m sure the enormity of the project translated to a lower price per street, or foot, or however it would be figured, as opposed to the price for the same projects done and broken out over many years. Getting the construction crews here and occupied for weeks (months?) at a time – and not on the road to any number of other projects – has to add up to some savings.
But that also means the inconveniences and sounds of construction can be almost overwhelming at tines.
KLUNK! CLAAAANG! BOOM! BIGGER KLUNK! SLAM! GROUND VIBRATION! BIGGER KABOOM! SCREECHING, SCRAPING! And always the BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
You get the idea… although print can only convey a slight portion of the jarring, repetitive and annoying sounds.
What the heck? BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! I’m thinking incentives or prizes are being handed out for construction workers proficient at doing their jobs by constantly operating their equipment in reverse. It is a skill after all, I suppose… BEEP!!!
Yes, the loud noises get old. But there’s also the element of uncertainty. I believe the city makes sure emergency access is maintained. Yet, whether needing to park out front on Main Street or off the alley and in the backyard remains a bit of a guess. And then there was the day our row of mailboxes was moved to a site of perceived safety a couple blocks away.
Just the other day I found the big, blue hose temporarily supplying water to residences was stretched down the alley. It was in between my Jeep and the alley. Dare I back over it? Or would that collapse it, thus interrupting the water supply of everyone connected to it?
I called the Preston city office to see how I should proceed and was quite pleased. Within 15 minutes city staff had made contact with a project contractor, then one of its employees showed up and placed dirt over the hose to protect it. I was good to get out for the little distance I might need to drive around town on errands.
I’m sure city staff members are handling all kinds of calls related to unexpected circumstances with the project, all on top of their regular jobs. Many thanks go out to them for pleasantly handling these unenviable but inevitable tasks.
Yes, gratitude coming even from people who might offer up a newspaper column detailing all the project’s aggravations in a manner that it’s hoped will make people smile from behind their earplugs.
I used to be – and still am in a minor way (now that I’ve learned all the new noises this summer) – annoyed with the birds that sing loudly right outside my bedroom window, both so early in the morning and continuing throughout the day. They are so noisy, they must have an immense sound-compared-to-body-size rating.
I got online to try to figure out what birds they are. My “go-to” site for all things bird is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, www.birds.cornell.edu. I looked at the “bird guide” page. In trying to think of what I perceive as smaller birds, such as chickadees or finches, I found the birdcalls I played online didn’t match the songs I was hearing.
Not to worry. The site also offers other suggestions as to what the birds in question might be. In checking out the ideas, I hit a match, the house wren. The site shared this information:
“A plain brown bird with an effervescent voice, the house wren is a common backyard bird over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects. House wrens will gladly use nest boxes, or you may find their twig-filled nests in old cans, boots, or boxes lying around in your garage.”
But overall, the last sentence in this description really sealed the deal for me: “As with many birds, your ears can help lead you to house wren sightings. Start in the right habitat: backyards, parks, or open woods, then listen. The song can be hard to learn at first, because the notes are nondescript and variable, and because there’s simply so much of it — so loud and insistent — that it’s hard to believe such a small bird is making it.”
Yes, I see small birds darting about the house, and sometimes trying to place twigs for nests into some cranny. And then the boisterous, bubbly song. House wrens indeed, or at least I’m pretty darned sure.
Who would have thought? I have grown to have an appreciation for house wrens and their loud, but lively and pretty song this summer.
I also appreciate all the work going into Preston’s utilities and streets this summer. I’ll appreciate it even more when the annoying noises and inconveniences are a distant memory. “Yes, it was a wonderful and much-needed project,” I’ll then agree with anyone admiring the handsome new streets.
Thanks to all – and I mean everyone from city council and city staff members to engineers to construction workers to city residents/taxpayers to those of us living on the affected streets and our temporary inconveniences – project well done!