In my last house, after almost 20 years, I knew exactly what “normal” sounded like for each individual appliance, sink and toilet as well as for the furnace, the air conditioner and the hot water tank.
I knew that dramatic drops or increases in temperature outside would make the house pop as the building materials contracted or expanded. I was also familiar with the specific creaking noises that tree branches outside would make in heavy winds.
Each sound had a distinct fingerprint, and after 20 years, whenever the house made noise, I could usually pick out the cause and not worry about it.
But in having my radar on like a bat and the ability to filter out common “normal” noises, it goes without saying that noises that weren’t so common and didn’t match the usual patterns, could sometimes make me jump higher than I would when watching most horror flicks.
I wouldn’t chalk up that reaction to perhaps being a little over-caffeinated or being a nervous person by nature. I think it stems from a pride of ownership in my home and any noises that aren’t considered “normal” should be investigated right away to ensure they aren’t a sign of a more serious problem.
When that happened, Ivy the Wonder Cat and I would turn into Scooby and Shaggy (respectively), slowly walking through the house, flashlight in hand, waiting for the noise to happen again to be able to figure out where it is coming from, what it is, how to stop it and if a professional noise-eradicator needed to be called.
Fortunately, by then end of my stay in that home, those types of noises didn’t happen too often anymore, although birds flying into freshly washed windows could have both of us jumping sky high.
But now, in our new house, it’s a clean slate, and we have a host of new noises to explore. What is interesting to me is that it is so quiet out in the country, house noises can seem twice as loud as they did in the city… so I jump twice as high.
After three months, I have gotten used to the “language” of the sinks, toilets and the appliances, those were pretty easy.
With the shifts in temperatures we had this past summer, I have already experienced the popping noises of our house’s building materials… so I already have those programmed and stored in my memory banks.
But it is the unfamiliar ones that still have me sleuthing like a Hardy Boy.
Just last week, there was one day that I was outside on my lunch break playing “pick-up sticks”, when I heard a continuous sound that was unfamiliar. I hunted for the source, walking around slowly, waiting for the sound to get louder, only to zero in on it and slap my palm to my forehead in realizing that it was the sound of the dryer vent from outside. With the cooler temperatures, the air conditioner was off that day for the first time in weeks and presented my first opportunity to hear that particular noise.
I felt a little silly, but at least I identified one more for the collection.
What struck me along the way is that whatever house noises I do hear are often diminished by the sounds of the wildlife outside… and wow, do we have wildlife! It is obvious why Ivy the Wonder Cat loves sitting by the windows as much as she does because of all of the action outside.
Between the various species of birds peeping and squawking at the top of their lungs, the bossy squirrels making noise to try and keep everyone in line, or the extroverted chipmunks seemingly arguing with the bossy squirrels, we don’t need streaming radio stations for nature sounds, we just need to open a window.
I don’t know if crickets have volume control or if we just have more of them at this time of year, but they are definitely filling our ears with their tunes as well 24/7. At least their tunes are more relaxing than some of my neighbours played back in the city.
As time goes on and the seasons change, I am certain that this particular house’s interior and exterior noises will all become more familiar and establish some patterns and a sense of order. Once that happens I should be able to distinguish the difference between “normal” noises and the strange, irregular ones that warrant further investigation.
Until that happens, I accept that my ears may be in overdrive for a while, and I might be a little jumpy, until such time as I have become fully acquainted with the house and all of its “normal” noises.
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