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Time for Moore: The sounds of summer

But once in a while, the sounds of summer can mellow, and certain noises are soothing rather than nerve-wracking.

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Noise is probably not the first thing popping to mind when considering the senses associated with summer.

In summer, the visual is paramount — green grass and tree leaves, multi-colored flowers and crops, red tomatoes, blue skies, sparkling water and lightly clad bodies, to name only a few of the sights on which our eyes are currently feasting. Touch (warm sun on your skin, cranked-up air conditioning fluttering your shirt, wind in your face, trickling sweat) is a close runner-up.

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Taste is a major player, too, with hotdogs (really, grilled food of all kinds), sweet watermelon, savory corn on the cob, mojitos, S’mores, coleslaw, potato salad and ice cream landing on our tongues more often than usual during June, July and August.

Smell is intrinsically intertwined with taste, and while most of that is positive, there’s also some unpleasantness accompanying certain seasonal odors, for the record (consider: vehicle exhaust, overly Axe-sprayed adolescent guys, rotting garbage and sweaty armpits sans deodorant). Ew.

But who knew summer could be so … noisy?

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Let me explain.

A recent gathering at a pub patio shifted into ear-splitting territory when a nearby train engineer let loose with his horn and didn’t ease up until we were convinced deafness was the only possible outcome. On another occasion, conversation on our deck ground to a halt when storm sirens went off and we were left miming to each other like Marcel Marceau in an extended rehearsal session.

Lawn mowers and leaf blowers add to the cacophony at unexpected moments (typically when you are sitting down to an outdoor meal or anticipating quiet time on the porch with a book or paper … or cell phone), as do HVAC systems that kick on outside houses and businesses with a note of authority that says, “Hey, listen to ME! I’m doing the job!” Awkward gaps in chit-chat may result.

Fans, busy circulating air indoors, necessitate raised voices (or maybe it’s just me and my spouse walking around asking each other, “What? What?” all the time?).

Outdoor concert venues operating as if nothing less than 120 decibels will do are absolute public health risks.

Construction projects mean that pounding, drilling, heavy trucks rolling and workers shouting to each other become a regular part of the daily milieu, and don’t discount street sweepers and tree trimmers as sound-generators.

Other sound sources include squealing tires, blasting vehicle music, revving engines of cars and motorcycles, more frequent emergency vehicle sirens and fireworks, the latter often dreaded by dog owners (and their little dogs, too).

Night owls who enjoy sleeping with open windows find the early birds and their incessant chirping to be rude and irritating. Nobody loves to hear a swarm of mosquitoes nearby. And how about those hot shots on jet skis who insist on cruising close to the shore at full speed? Try chilling, dudes.

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When your ears are on overload, it’s easy to dream of a gently crackling fire on a quiet snowy evening, flakes falling like whispers outside frosted windows and winter’s blanketing peace. (As long as snowmobiles or snowplows aren’t passing by!)

But once in a while, the sounds of summer can mellow, and certain noises are soothing rather than nerve-wracking.

The laughter and excited voices of kids splashing at a pool? Pure joy.

The Minnesota United FC crowd collaborating on “Wonderwall” following a Loons’ win, or a cheerful “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” sung at a seventh-inning stretch? Magic.

Waves lapping against the beach at a secluded lake; steaks sizzling on a hot grill; a loon calling to his mate; crickets chirping after dark; these sounds make tuning in to the season worthwhile.

Listen closely; summer is calling to you.

Related Topics: WORTHINGTONMUSIC
Opinion by Jane Turpin Moore
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