Sunday, February 1, 2009

Suburban Peace and Quiet? Hardly.

Ordinarily, my annual sojourn to see the doctor is a non-event. Cholesterol, blood sugar and other health markers check out fine, year after year. This time, though, the nurse mentioned I had a "slight" hearing loss in my left ear. A sign of aging, she said, while still pointing out the damage excessive noise can do to our hearing. Even driving in a car can damage hearing, she said.

I drove home from the physical newly motivated to take better care of my ears. It wouldn't be too hard to guess the cause of hearing loss. In my case, weekly mowings of my 1.5 acre homestead from late April through October no doubt contribute to the din. Although I use a battery-powered mower, which is somewhat quieter than a conventional gas mower, it still wouldn't hurt to actually wear the ear muffs I purchased years ago.

Along with the lawnmower I use are a lawn trimmer (also rechargeable), an electric pruner I use on the forsythia, spirea and azalea and the newest addition to the fleet, an electric snow-blower. So I guess you could say (sadly) that I contribute my fair share of noise to the neighborhood. Still, I draw the line at purchasing an ear-deafening leaf blower; a rake and some good exercise does just fine.

Around the holidays, I purchased a Hoover steam cleaner to clean my area rugs. Incredibly, that steam cleaner is, far and away, much louder than any lawn and garden appliance I own.

Demise of a Cardinal

Owl Hollow suffered another casualty this week when a hawk got a cardinal at the bird feeder. It's happened before. I guess the hawks have to live, too. The ones here look like either "Sharpies" (Sharp-shinned) or Cooper's hawks, and it's impossible for me to tell the difference. It's my guess that their success rate is only 1 out of 4 tries, but this time, I found a telltale collection of scattered cardinal feathers under the hanging sunflower feeder. I'd rather they picked up one of the well-fed squirrels who regularly raid the feeders, but I'm guessing these small hawks might have a beak-full with one of these rodents.

Spring Cleaning

I've got my work cut out for me this spring. The yard is strewn with debris from one particularly bad ice storm that took down white pine branches like they were match sticks.

Add to that my heavy pruning earlier this winter of my enormous burning bush and the overgrown forsythia and I can see myself doing clean-up duty well into summer.

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