HUDDLE close and let me whisper to you a little oddity of mine.
I hate noise, all noise, and treat it as a ‘pong in my ear’.
It includes din, the kind of everyday sounds that most agree is bad for your hearing and general wellbeing.
Things like loud radios, whistling kettles, house alarms, rock music, even barking dogs. They eat away and fray my nerves.
You may say that I am rather thin-skinned, but science is on my side.
A growing body of evidence confirms that the decibel levels of chronic din today (anything loud, disturbing, and continuous) take a toll on our health and happiness.
Gardeners have always subscribed to the notion that their creations are places of rest and tranquility but the truth is that far too many are dogged and blighted by excessive air and road traffic noise.
My own garden to the front or our bungalow is scourged daily from the sound and emissions from over nineteen thousand vehicles trundling past the gate.
Being a national ring-road, the great majority are heavy duty trucks and multi-axle transporters.
Apart from their disturbing hum, the noise from air horns as drivers ‘greet’ each other is both alarming and dangerous.
It far exceeds the 85 decibels that the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (UK) says is physically damaging to a person’s hearing and wellbeing.
One of these fine afternoons, when I am most likely cutting the front lawn, a blast from an air horn will signal my departure to a place where ‘in the beginning there was silence, and it was good’.
The way I see it, obtrusive and discordant noise will continue to be part and parcel of modern living and we are all, it seems, powerless in trying to fight it.
The romantic may well hear a train whistle differently from the insomniac in city and town, but study after study has found that community noise is interrupting our sleep, interfering with our children's learning, suppressing our immune systems, and even increasing - albeit just a little - our chances of a heart attack.
It makes me want to garden more and more ‘in the back’; my secret place of refuge, a quiet zone guarded by sound-deadening evergreens and matronly shrubs.
Here I feel content and truly at home with the sight of sunlight on plants and soil and total, blessed quietness.