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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Broken Silence

Lasne is renowned all over the Brussels region for the tranquil, idyllic charming rural scenery. The rolling landscape gently invites walkers, horse riders and recently quad-riders into the valleys and scattered forests.
We live in a secluded street that must be one of the most silent spots in the area. So you would call it silence at the power of two. No cars, no children, a couple of barking dogs, a horse neighing, a private plane at low altitude and a few birds. These are the noises you hear sometime. At night it is even more silent. Then the voice of the wind through the trees is the only sign of a world out there.

We all have big gardens, some have big fields for horses. Just around the corner large fields of corn, soya and sugar beet extend into the next village. We hardly know or meet our neighbors not for lack of goodwill, but because we never see them. We do not have shops, or other reasons to congregate.

It is not a place for the weak and faint-hearted. You must be at peace with yourself to live in such a habitat. We are deluxe hermits feeding on some internal energy.

Some days ago we received a notice from a neighbor in the mailbox, informing us that he will give a big party. It very formally announced that the police and city hall have been notified and there will be noise and lots of traffic. We did not give it any thought because we were going to be away traveling.

Then yesterday a neighbor came to our house, a new one that I have never met before. He lives a few houses down my street. I am always happy to meet a new neighbor; I can add him to my list of people I know around here. After one year I have met seven families. Now one more, eight. He wanted me to sign a petition against the noise that the party had generated a few weekend ago. I was totally amazed that somebody would be driven to such an action for one party. It is true that the noise went until six in the morning and that it was very loud and sleep was difficult. A party is a party. It is not construction or low altitude jet airplanes' noise. It was a lonely isolate instance of joy and merriment.

I was not there, I cannot judge. I was in Milano where the noise is constant, the traffic is non stop. The claxons of tiny Fiats and supped up Vespas keep you awake night after night.

Can it be that noise in a silent place is noisier than noise in a noisy place?


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