Friday, March 18, 2016

Vroom, Vroom

Let me silent be,
For silence is the speech of love,
The music of the spheres above.
Richard Henry Stoddard

Yesterday, while sitting on my bed with my books and journals, I heard the distant drone of a lawn mower. That sound has long been a favorite of mine. Growing up in the harsh winters of Minnesota, a lawn mower's music meant the long days of summer and I most likely had bare feet. I love when my feet are bare. Warmth.

My brain filled with memories of days with no school structure and adventures made where my mother often had no clue as to my whereabouts. Bike riding. Swimming. The county fair. Vacation at a lake. My toes in the grass. Library books read under the shade of a tree.

I closed my eyes, happy in my content recollections.

As my meditation approached peak nirvana, the pull of a rip cord and the blasting rev, rev, rev of a power blower eradicated the gentle din of the mower. My neighbor's lawn people had arrived.

Blowers unnerve me. The firing up of the machinery. The warming of the motor bypassing the sputter. Rev. Rev. Rev. The finger on the trigger testing the strength of the mower as it moves through the yard. The blower taking for-ev-er to complete its route.

Incessant pandemonium ensues as debris is pushed savagely into a new resting place. The flurry of activity continues as leaves and twigs and soil and grass clippings relocate in a cloud to the destination chosen by the invader powering the man-made wind.

The Beast
 Whatever became of the good-natured swish of a broom? The muted scrape of a rake gathering leaves and mowed grass into a pile?

This uproar of noise doesn't escape me at my home either. The neighbors and I know when my husband has arrived from work on Friday nights. First thing he does is open the shed door and fire up that beastly blower of disturbance. 

I recall finishing my work week with a place to rest my feet and a gallon of wine. But nowadays, from my most likely prone position in my hammock or from my chair inside where my quiet and silent life surrounds me, my peace is shattered. Noise has arrived.

Vroom Vroom Vroom

I understand it's not only that the walkway is now cleared of the weekly scraps that have fallen due to winds or the seasons of the Chinese Tallow trees. There is something to that Vroom. It's a guy thing.

It's why when a motorcycle passes us my husband rolls down every window in the car and says, "Listen to that."

Or when he fires up the boat and only puts the motor halfway into the water for a few moments and its blubble, blubble, blubble interrupts my content mind.

"Listen to that purr," he says.

I feign having hearing.

I've long known many men like motors more than women do. Hence all the TV shows my husband channels through on a nightly basis. The car fixer shops filled with guys (and an occasional woman in a tight t-shirt) rebuilding motors while the noise level makes the workers shout at one another.

Or the guy with the white hair and mustache who travels around the country buying expensive cars and then gets all tense while selling them at auction to guys with nothing better to do with their time and money. Collectors, my husband says.


Noise and motors obviously do something for men that it just doesn't do for me. (I could possibly include speed here, but my mother drove a car and a boat like a bat out of hell, so I won't.)

This thing, whatever it does, must have some power or shot of testosterone that I only see as an invasion and will never, never understand. Since I don't have a wanger and all.

It's not the first time I've realized that not having a penis places me in a different world. (No shit, Sherlock, but I'm trying to keep this post light.) And, not only in regard to motors.

Last year my husband was hot to replace our old boat which bought used had served us well for nine years and almost 700 hours of family/friend fun. Translation: about 100,000 car miles and still perfectly serviceable. I also didn't have to worry about jarring it if I nudged the dock while creeping into the mooring on a windy day.

Since he thinks differently than me as to what our priorities are (again an appropriate placement for a no shit) he found a new/used one at a local boat shop. He asked me to come look at it. Although I had five thousand better things to do, I did appreciate that he wanted me to see it and met him there.

I found him with the salesman in a garage at the back of the showplace. The dealership had pulled the boat into this space for his inspection.

First words out of my mouth?

"Really? No way this will fit in our dock. Way too big. And look at the rack on it."

"Yeah," said my husband and the salesman in unison, their eyes glazing over as they viewed the rack.

"Measuring tape?" I inquired.

They both looked at me.

"Tape? Measure?"

The killjoy had arrived.

After much search, the salesman proffered up my requested ruler and with collected delight the two of them declared that the width would just make it into the slip.

"Providing you can just slide it in. And the water is calm," I said.

No reply.

"Can our lift accommodate the weight of this beast?"

Killjoy, again.

The salesman suggested we call the most expensive dock guys around to come and put in a hydraulic system to be placed on the bottom of the lake that would lower and lift our boat rather than the current pulley and cable raising system we have.

"Is that in our budget?"

My husband shifted back and forth on his feet.

"And the rack," I asked. "How does that fit in our covered slip."

"Oh," said the salesman. "You just put it up and down when you come in and out."

"With all our visitors, we go in and out sometimes ten times on a weekend."

He shuffled his feet.

"You can sell racks on Craigslist," he conceded.

I don't doubt that.

I glanced at the really nice and expensive boat parked next to this one and remarked how its rack is not nearly as big. I asked why this one is so large if it serves the same purpose.

The salesman shrugged. "Some guys just like a bigger rack."

The sky opened up and I couldn't resist.

"I get it. My rack's bigger than your rack."

I took my leave.

Suffice to say, a different boat found its way to our dock. It may not have a huge rack, but it does have a motor that goes Vroom, Vroom. I hear it when my husband revs it up and wants me to listen. I peak over my hammock's edge without moving my book and nod my head.

I haven't taken this boat out by myself yet as I'm waiting for my husband to put a big dent in it first.

Meanwhile, as I sit with windows open writing this incredibly substance-filled blogpost, I've taken a few minutes to listen to the quiet. I hear the twitter of a visiting bird calling, "Cheater, Cheater, Cheater." The gentle coo of a Mourning Dove and the settling of the falling Live Oak leaves as they land on the patio. I hear the pansies saying hello.

Yet I prepare. For as the day closes in and my quiet world escapes me, I hear in the distance a small plane passing overhead as it approaches the grass landing strip across the lake. A weekend fisherman roars by in pursuit of the perfect fishing hole, before anyone else finds it. A lawn crew fires up its motors a few houses down.

Vroom Vroom

Blubble, Blubble, Blubble

Cheers to my male readers. Please note I said 'many men' not all of them.


  1. I haven't taken this boat out by myself yet as I'm waiting for my husband to put a big dent in it first.

    My former husband was the same, save he did not live long enough to acquire all the toys he coveted. He has been mentioned several times recently by new acquaintances who assume I am a widow, and a recent one, at that. The men, of course, wonder what they would find under roof if they made his acquaintance, and the woman what sort of noise I listen to. So I add to the conversation, "...but he died when he was 44..." The fairly young nurse practitioner taking my granddaughter's history this week stopped mid idle chat to register that, the said "You've saved a fortune in earplugs."

    What a timely post.

    1. hahahahaha! not at the loss of your former husband, but at the remark of the nurse practitioner. Earplugs. I need to invest in those. Thank you for this.

  2. It is a guy thing, isn't it? That motor noise they love so much. I simply detest leaf blowers, they are so overloud and obnoxious to my ears. But still, I love this post and laughed out loud a couple times. :-)

    1. I'm so glad you laughed out loud. Makes me feel good.

      The motors seem to be increasing in our lives. I yearn for a quieter solution. Perhaps women engineers need to begin designing these machines. We can hope. Right?

  3. I think you could have said 'most' instead of 'many' - and yes I suspect it is a 'mine's bigger than your's thing' although none of them would admit it - or perhaps not even recognise it as being so.

    1. Oh, how I adore your comments. Yes, I was trying to tread lightly.

  4. So glad to see your words here this morning! You've been on my mind. You made me laugh, as you always do. But you also made me feel that summer feeling that the sound of lawn mowers (preferable in the distance) always brings. I hate the sound of blowers. It sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to smack someone. As I read this I also wondered if the vroom vroom thing is why so many more men than women can't hear by the time they're approaching old age. :-)

    1. Thanks, Deb. And, yes. Never occurred to me consider the lack of hearing. Is that why my husband hears nothing I say? Ha!

  5. Too funny! I prefer peace and quiet too, but then again, someone has to deal with those leaves. I wonder why leaf blowers can't have mufflers.

    We live near the sea but don't have a boat - it's a big responsibility and cost. I do love it when our friends take us out on their boats, despite the noise. It's the only way to visit the uninhabited islands. My husband is more into sailboats, but I get seasick. The hardest novel research I ever did was going out lobster fishing.

    1. Oh, I can imagine the seasickness, what an adventure. I, too, like the quiet of sailboats, but have to admit that in my older years, I like the comfort of a motor to get me back if necessary.

      I'd love to go lobster fishing. Perhaps once.

  6. The neighbors hired a commercial lawn service. A huge truck pulling a flatbed announces their arrival every Friday in summer. They unload TWO giant ride-on mowers followed by weed whackers and blowers. After that, everyone else's noise seems tame by comparison.

    1. Always a pleasure when they leave, isn't it?

      I thought of you when I took that pansy photo. Thinking those are the Minnesota Golden Gopher colors.

  7. that loud sound coming down mt lane is my daughter on her Harley.She is the gearhead in my family

  8. Of all those motor noises, the leaf blower has to be most irritating. The workers wear protective gear for their ears. Enough said.

    You evoked so many nostalgic summer memories.. sigh.. and a lot of laughs when relaying the conversation about the boat. Great post, Julie!

    1. Thanks, Hilary. Perhaps I need to get some earplugs.

  9. Actually small engine devices are all female. There often hard to start and oft time very noisy. I am partially deaf due to my chain saw and 12 gauge shotgun. Nope I don't care much for them and generally prefer the quieter and more thoughtfulness of real women...:)

  10. The bigger the toy the more the men love it. We have long since gotten rid of our powerboat and have opted for a canoe and kayak. When my hubby is working a lot and has not had time to trim with weed trimmer....I go around yard with scissors. There is no way in h e double toothpicks I'm turning that thing on....LOL Enjoy your boat rides this summer. Cheers.

    1. Hahahahaha! Cheers to you, Nesse. Love the scissors.

  11. Oh, I hear you and I think some people in their quest for BIGGER miss the beauty of little. I love the woods in winter, the swish of my skis. Then snowmobiles roar in the distance and wreck it. Sound can be so invading and disturbing and disruptive. The first thing I do every night when I come home is TURN OFF what my sons and husband have turned ON. It might be a female thing.

    1. I get it about TURNING OFF. I used to come into the mayhem and turn off the TV. It was like 40 people left my house.

      The swish of your skis. I so get that, too.

  12. This post makes me think of my deceased brother-in-law who was a serious boater. He also had his own landscaping company... other noises you described. The scene you described at the dealership could have been a conversation between him and his wife. :) What would they do without us? :)


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