The sound of silence.

The last few blog posts have been somewhat negative, in terms of bemoaning our latest home location. Note to self: there is really not much to moan about as we are privileged to have such a beautifully renovated apartment, in a beautiful town, in a safe and secure country to call our home, for now. 

When one considers the devastation occuring around the globe, ranging from natural disasters of apocalyptic fires breaking out in the southern part of Europe where the highest temperatures in recorded history have created a tinder box scenario; floods have ravaged and swept villages and towns, along with lives, away; countries have erupted in civil war, causing even further disaster for their own citizens, most of whom are desperate to escape the terrors of the warmongers. And so it goes on and on and on… humanity destroying the gift of the earth and the gift of life, what a sorry bunch we are?!

So many song lyrics spout about the “still of the night”, “listen to the sound of silence”, “hello darkness my old friend”, and so on. Well, it’s an enigma!  Where we currently live, there is no such thing, instead, the night is anything but silent!

Until the silence of the night has been experienced, first hand, there is no telling just how noisy the night actually is!

Growing up on a farm in the rural hills of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, I was spoiled by the purity of the night, the silence, the peace and the restful calmness. 

That was, until it was broken by nature’s cruelty of predators, lynx and jackal, hunting our sheep flock; bushbabies (tree hyrax) calling through the misty darkness and the plethora of the insects that screech and scream, chirp and click in the African nights. But mostly, it was quiet and a sense of peace prevailed as the day went to bed for the rest that it required for the next day’s productivity.

So it was that I was first afraid of the dark, as most children are, exacerbated by the fact that my Dad was a great practical joker and loved to give us a fright in the dark! He then helped me to overcome my irrational fear by showing me how bright the stars are and how vast the Milky Way is in the clear air of the South African rural skies.  He taught me to appreciate the night’s velvety embrace and to identify the noises that populate the heightened sense of sound, with the dulled sense of sight.

The night can certainly be desperately quiet, especially when one is trying to be quiet, as in not to disturb others. Then every breath that one takes is akin to the sound of a freight train entering and leaving a tunnel; every tip-toed footstep, a pounding of a team of horses or herd of cattle; and every creak of door hinge or floorboard, as loud as the crack of a rifle!

Back to the less fortunate who fear the actual sound of gunfire, bursting out in the dark of the night, and the pause of baited breath before the next bomb is exploded. For these people, there is never any real peace and silence in the night, making my little whinge all the more pathetic but here goes anyway…

Below our apartment, very conveniently located, are the recycling bins. A very well maintained system that never allows for the bins to overflow and pests to inhabit the area. The signs on these bins state that they are used between the hours of 07:00 and 21:00 only. This in order to respect the peace of those who live directly over or above them.

Suffice to say that 21:00 in the long, bright light of the Dutch summer months, does not register in the minds of the locals. Any attempt at trying to catch an early night, from 21:30-22:30 is running the risk of some sort of antagonism, usually from our bedroom window to the street below, with one or more locals.

When confronting fellow recyclers, after the enigmatic 21:00, the most common reply is that they are only depositing cardboard and paper or plastic, not glass. Well, I can attest to the fact that the plastic disposal unit really does grind and crunch alarmingly loudly, “in the still of the night” and that cardboard, being torn to fit the bin slot, really does make a surprisingly loud noise when surrounded by “the sound of silence”! 

Top of the night noises is the glass disposal bin: the smashing of the glass vessels as they slide down the chute to meet their already smashed counterparts is as loud as gunfire and bombs exploding when all around is resting peacefully, or at least trying to do so!

Solution to this small challenge: White Noise. We have learned to close our double glazed windows (something that is abhorrent to me, the fresh air lover) and buy a fan which softly whirrs away the jarring sounds of the street below. 

This method even goes some way to dull the sound of the supermarket delivery vehicles that roll in around an hour before the “official” delivery time of 07:00. The whirr and clang of metal roller crates on corrugated ramps is very hard to filter out… I guess that we will grow numbly accustomed to these sounds, all in good time…

Cloggie has a wonderful phrase that they trot out whenever they are “caught out” and want to subtly put one in one’s place and that is: “Het komt goed, hoor!” Roughly translating to: “It will all be alright, okay.” One has got to love our locals! HUP HOLLAND!!!

4 thoughts on “The sound of silence.

  1. sal, …. so beautifully written💞

    please note: het komt goed hoor is correct, not: het kompt…

    kiss K your fan

    >

    Like

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