This past weekend was Victoria Day up here in The Great White North. It’s a national holiday and the kick-off to Summer (in Canada, Summer gets a capital “S” – it’s that important to us).
Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25 in every province and territory. It honours Queen Victoria’s birthday. In Quebec this holiday is called “National Patriotes Day” (Journée nationale des patriotes).
The Victoria Day weekend is commonly referred to as “May 2-4”; partly because Queen Victoria’s birthday was May 24th, but mostly because, as the kick-off to Summer, there is a lot of beer consumed on the weekend. As in “I’d like a case of 2-4, please.”
May 2-4 is the traditional weekend to open cabins and cottages. It’s the official kick-start to the Canadian camping season. It’s the weekend Canadians ready their yard for our 3-months of sun and high temperatures. We put in gardens. We rake up grass. We get out our patio furniture; dust off the BBQs and smokers; fix our decks; replace the boards on fences; mow the lawn and light up the bonfires. Not to mention fireworks – this is one of two holidays, the other being Canada Day, when it is legal to set off fireworks.
The Madhouse was no exception to the unwritten get-ready-for-summer bylaw that affects 90% of the population up here. We too were busy in the yard all weekend. What were we doing? We were building a shed. Yup, a great, big 10×14 Arrow Oakbrook storage shed.
It was a project and a half. Let me put it to you this way – it came with 192 nuts and bolts (that’s 192 sets of nuts and bolts) and 446 screws. Thank God for electric drills. Mike was a trooper. Not only was he the driving force behind getting it done he also tolerated my dizzy spells (I’m susceptible to heat/sun stroke) and Rian’s whining (she is a teenager and she breaks out in a rash if she gets too much sun – thank you, Irish ancestors).
Alexi wasn’t too involved with the shed. He had all four of his wisdom teeth extracted on Thursday so he wasn’t feeling too hot. Despite bearing a striking resemblance to Marlon Brando in the Godfather (holy swollen cheeks, Batman) he still pitched in. He did some yard work; helped hold up wall panels while Mike and I screwed them in place; and acted as our gofer or as he put it, “I’m your Scooter.” (I’d love to post a picture of his puffy face, but he asked me not to, and I must respect his request. Trust me, it was both cute and hilarious.)
After two, long days of working in 25C+ (77F+) temperatures, we were worn out. I could not wait to go bed. All the windows were open allowing a beautiful breeze to flow the through the house. There’s nothing quite as nice as having a fresh breeze blow all that stale, winter air out of your home. But you know what else comes with the lovely breeze? The not-so-lovely noise.
We’ve lived here, “in town” (“town” has a population of about 35 000, which is a small city by Canadian standards) as we call it, for 16 years. I lived in the country for 10 years before that and spent a great deal of my childhood on the family farm where my mother grew up. When we lived out in the country our windows were open all the time in the spring and summer (except when they were spreading manure, we shut up the house super quick at the first waft of “Eau de Poo”). I would fall asleep to the sounds of cattle lowing in the barn, grain elevators, tractors and combines in the fields, crickets, birds, and the occasional car driving by. It was heaven.
Do you know what I hear at night here in town? Cars driving by on any of the two dozen streets within earshot of my home; sirens; neighbours in their pools and hot tubs till all hours of the night; car alarms; people screaming; central air units humming; Guitar Hero blaring from a basement window; dogs barking; the occasional train; and last night – fireworks. And in the daytime it’s non-stop lawn mowers; kids screaming (that I can handle because kids need to play); even more traffic; buzz saws; power drills; hammering; the neighbour’s pool pump; the birds (which I enjoy) and once a week the banging of the garbage truck stopping at hundreds of houses. Basically a cacophony of sound.
It’s like an audio assault on my senses. I become overwhelmed by the onslaught of sound. I cannot rest. My brain will not shut off. I lie in bed trying to decern which neighbour is having a party. Is the ambulance heading out or bringing some poor soul to the emergency room? Or is there a fire nearby? Is that our car alarm or someone else’s? Should I get up and check the yard just in case there’s a problem?
Last night I got out of bed, went out to the living room and closed all the windows just so I could I try to sleep. I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is ADHD or anxiety. Or if it’s related to the hypervigilance associated with PTSD. Maybe it’s all three. What I know for sure is that, even after 16 years in town, I still haven’t adjusted to the sheer volume of city life. I still feel vulnerable surrounded by that much noise.
I’m not sure if the noise affects the kids in the same way. After all, they grew up here. I have noticed they don’t like their windows open either maybe they don’t like the noise either. I’ll have to ask.
So what’s the solution because you can’t live life in the problem. The long-term goal is to move back out to the country, even a small village. In the short-term it’s either keep all the windows closed or start wearing noise-canceling headphones.