It’s over. No more noise.
The chainsaws would rip. They would gnarl and buzz like dirtbikes in the air. Nasty little beasts whose tearing, piercing tones could cut through your ear protection. In close enough quarters the sound would bounce off of fences and walls, forcing you to step back, to turn your head, to retreat. The violent appeal of the act only lasts so long; chainsaws only look and sound so cool until you can’t take the noise.
The big chipping machines. As big as a small car and much louder. You stick a piece of wood in, the toothed wheel slowly pulls it in, a faster smooth wheel begins to shave away, and who knows what else turns the foliage into woodchips and mulch.To simply turn this big yellow ogre on sounds like an airplane being geared up in shifts. You feel compelled to put on your hearing protection even before turning the key. Before pushing in the throttle and pull-twisting the choke knob that brings it up and beyond 2600rpm.
And then you have to feed it. The limbs and the cabbage and the pieces of trunk. You either that a particularly fruity tree like a mountain ash or a crabapple or a chokecherry won’t clog up the works into apple sauce. Or that an older, petrified tree won’t blacken your lungs with dust and pummel your ears with a harsh, percussive buzz as it plows through the chipper. A gritty, noisy chew like eating something stale and frozen. It just hurts.
These machines are so loud. And when you work as ground crew for an arborist company you can’t avoid it. The chainsaws and the chipper burning and gnashing at the same time. And the low rumble of the lift and freight trucks often running in the background. Trucks that are loud in their own right when flying down freeways. It’s quite the din to put up with, one that insulated earcaps or foam plugs can only do so much to block. You don’t avoid the noise so much as certain harsh frequencies. It remains a dull, sheer force of sound. It pummels and it wears on you.
Home barely feels like refuge. The solution seems logical: go from noise to quiet. From harsh to calm. From sixty to zero. Maybe it’s the sudden shift, but it never feels enough. Or too much. You almost want the business of mind, body and senses to continue. As if pure quiet would be overwhelming. But the body demands it. You want the work day to end in general, but it’s more than that. Physically, you’re exhausted, worn out, so you don’t want to move. Mentally you’re wiped too, so you don’t want to do anything involving thought. The noise does all this. You don’t even want to listen to music.
You want to trade noise for sleep. And that’s no way to go through life.
But it’s over now. I don’t do that work anymore, and I hope I can hear myself think again. I hope I can get back to a life of energy, of interest in doing anything but rest. It’s been a long summer, even if only for three months of work. But it was a lot of work, and I went through a lot. It’s over, and it’s a relief.
I can look forward to things again. It’s a downright thrill to anticipate everything that’s possible. It’s almost frightening. But it’s better to see it as a nervous thrill rather than a paralyzing fear. One that I won’t be too tired to avoid. One that I can work around. Now that I can live again.
To paraphrase Johnny Nash: I can think clearly now; the noise is gone.
© 2016 Andrew Hall Writes