When Good Vibrations was released in 1968, I still lived in rural Vermont. With only seven homes on a two-mile stretch of dirt road, traffic was limited to a handful of cars passing by each day. The sound and sight of a jet stream in the sky was so rare that we would stop to watch. At night, I fell asleep to a chorus of crickets and frogs. The only vibrations were that Beach Boys song and noise pollution was an unfamiliar concept.
My job made me a city dweller and I became far too familiar with the continual noise of a city environment. I came to admire those who designed environments like the park outside my workplace. Although our corporate high rises were surrounded by two intersecting expressways and topped with sounds from the nearby Air Force base, the park outside the buildings were a tribute to tranquility. The peaceful sounds of water cascading from several fountains and the birdsong emanating from the park’s abundant trees transported visitors to a place that seemed far from the city.
Since moving to Memphis, I have thought about that park frequently. With the expressway less than a mile away, traffic noise is always present in our yard and at times in our home. Houses are closely spaced and traffic is joined by the sounds of our neighbors’ comings and goings. As we prepare for a return to country living, we look forward to swapping traffic noise for birdsong.