11.2.09

The Sound of Wet Sidewalks


[The large bus loudly splashes dirty grey muck onto the sopping sidewalk.]


Walking around on sidewalks the other day in the wet rainy muck-a-muck, I felt generally melancholic. A malaise seemed to have sunk down on the Twin Cities, grey clouds and fog smothering good spirits like a soggy Koosh Ball.

It struck me as odd for the longest time until I realized something... my grey mood was all about sound!

All of a sudden, I noticed the effects of water on the roads. Exacerbated by the wind's persistent moan, the car tires were fingernails on my mental chalkboard. All the water, the pools of stormdrops lingering in city's gutters and streetpuddles, was a limitless amplifier for car tire acoustics. The persistent whirr and splash and high pitched hiss of traffic's white noise must be two or three times as loud during long rainy days, and it grates on the pedestrian's mind like a dentist's drill.

In other words, rain rain go away, you're making cars too loud for me!

It'd be one thing if there were rain puddles and sidewalks and a nice quiet street. In that case, you might hear the little drips and drops, the windchimes on porches, the spash of the occasional footboot landing mid-puddle, or the crazed shrieks of adolescent squirrels.

But walking down busy streets to hear the unceasing splash of infinite tires, throwing dirty water up into mid-walking calves... this is blasé, morose, and very depressing. I do not like what water does to sound, and as the sounds of streets moved from background to foreground, I longed for a bit of carless, careless quietude.

Yes, I longed for snow. Snow has the opposite effect on car noise. It deadens and quiets everything. Snow is like a big acoustic damper, hushing constant tires, and covering the world with peace and quiet. Maybe winter isn't so bad after all?

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