I grew up in Savannah, Ga. on a street that might have seemed busy for such a laid back place. Washington Avenue, in Savannah’s Ardsley Park neighborhood, was a divided street, with an oak tree-and-azalea lined median. This meant, as a child, that I was strictly forbidden from crossing the street without a grown up present. That was especially challenging sometimes, given that our first cousins lived catty-cornered across Washington Ave. & Harmon St. The instinct was to just look one way, run to the middle, look the other way, and run across. But oh no, you didn’t do it. The other reality of our street was there was a dip in the intersection. On an otherwise quiet street, if a heavy truck went by, or even just a car driving too fast, you heard it bump over that dip in the intersection.
When my parents moved from Washington Avenue out to Turner’s Rock, on the marsh abutting the Wilmington River, the silence was so evident. Instead of being jarred awake by trucks that were going too fast and bottoming out, you would wake up to birds, or frogs, or simply that unique sound of the incoming tide lingering into the marsh and the mud sucking it all up.
These days are the time of year when Atlanta is at its finest. We can open our windows to the cool weather and remember how much we enjoy the screen porch that is too hot in the summer. Which means, the windows of my office are open, or I’m working in the ‘kitchen office’ with the doors to the screen porch open wide to the cool, refreshing air. And we’re sleeping with windows open wide to the Fall air.
Here in Atlanta the hum of the city from our back porch includes the constant zip of cars on the Downtown Connector, the merging of I-75 & I-85 that goes through downtown Atlanta. If you looked at a map of Atlanta, our home is just to the right side of the Y after the highways go their separate ways. As one of my cousins once said, the hum is not a bad sound; if you can hear it, you’re close enough to it to get around quickly. The sound from here also includes the rush of the MARTA train every few minutes. When Jeff takes the scooter to the MARTA station on his commute I hear it & think, there he goes, off to work to push tin at the airport! And sometimes the hum includes the sound of a concert from Piedmont Park, like Paul McCartney, or the Eagles, or just some random band out there to entertain.
The hum of the city might be a dip in the road, a frog in a marsh, or a siren on a highway. It is never consistent, but it is always reliable as a soothing sound. Just in time to soothe me to sleep. For tonight, I’ll drown out the hum of the highway & imagine it’s the sound of the sunset and an incoming tide over the coastal marsh.