The sounds of town

The Covington News - - Front page -

On th­ese bless­edly cool spring morn­ings, we throw open the win­dows to cap­ture the crisp­ness be­fore the beam­ing sun be­gins its rise to­ward noon­day and the beginning of stuffily hot af­ter­noons.

To be sure, no one here is grum­bling about the weather or tem­per­a­tures: wet, dry, hot, cold, no mat­ter. God has hum­bled us in re­cent years through record-set­ting heat, earth­crack­ing drought, drown­ing rains without end and the long­est cold spell in mem­ory of old­sters around town. He gives, and through it all, we have learned that to ev­ery­thing there is a sea­son — I’ve read that some­where — and what seems un­bear­able will, in time, be just a mem­ory.

With win­dows ajar, the sounds of crowds of soon-to-be nest­ing birds and their merry morn­ing wake-up melodies fill the house. Lulled into peace­ful­ness over a cup of my fa­vorite strong cof­fee one re­cent day, I bolted upright when a huge boom thun­dered some­where near. In, say, Detroit, I might have ducked for cover, think­ing it was gun­fire, but in Cov­ing­ton, I think not. I sur­mised a trans­former mal­func­tion and knew the city trucks would soon be at work on the prob­lem.

We did not lose power, but soon, out on my morn­ing walk, I found that homes along Floyd Street were without it, thanks to an ex­change with Billy Travis. I saw him across the street, strid­ing pur­pose­fully to­ward the curb, swing­ing an ob­vi­ously dead squir­rel by the tail. He tossed it close to the curb where it landed with a thump, and I winced at the specter. Then he called out, “Power’s out. Squir­rel was sit­ting on the line.” Sorry, squir­rel. Thanks for the in­for­ma­tion, Billy.

The sounds of liv­ing in town con­trast de­cid­edly with the sounds of the coun­try when we lived be­side a gur­gling creek be­fore mov­ing here a few years ago. Only singing, chirp­ing birds in early spring and the rolling cho­ruses of ci­cadas in late spring broke the si­lence. We were far enough off the road and shel­tered in a nat­u­ral cove so that we never heard the traf­fic on nearby High­way 11.

It was bliss, but so are the sounds of this town be­cause they re­mind us 24 hours a day of com­mu­nity and the ebb and flow of life in a small town, rel­a­tively speak­ing.

That is what we sought in mak­ing the move from coun­try fields to a small city lot: a sense of com­mu­nity and neigh­bors. In those first days and months in town, we were in­trigued by the sounds of an ur­ban rooster crow­ing some­where nearby. He didn’t last long, a ru­n­away or a Sun­day lunch per­haps. Also nearby was an un­ruly pack of minia­ture dachshunds that of­ten dis­turbed the well­re­garded prac­tice of back porch sit­ting un­til a tact­fully writ­ten note to their own­ers pro­duced a lit­tle quiet. Fi­nally, they and their own­ers moved.

What re­mains of the sounds of town — and com­mu­nity — are th­ese: The roar of mo­tor­cy­cles when own­ers feel the first warm day on their backs and the open road calls. The wince-in­duc­ing wail of EMS trucks on Floyd Street. The thun­der and scream of the CSX trains bar­rel­ing through town at day­break, late night and some­time around 2 a.m., ter­ror­iz­ing those try­ing to sleep in North Cov­ing­ton. School buses lum­ber­ing up Wil­liams Street and An­der­son Av­enue haul­ing their charges to Fic­quett, once my own ele­men­tary school. Hymns from church bells at noon. On sleep­less nights, I can gauge the on­com­ing dawn by the grow­ing drone of traf­fic on 278 and de­ter­mine whether it’s worth it to try to get back to sleep — be­fore some op­ti­mistic robin be­gins to her­ald the new day.

Sounds in town de­clare the in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness of all life and the liv­ing. Daily they re­mind me of com­mu­nity and all that is shared in this time and place.

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