Peace and Quiet
By Tony Vanderwarker
One of the things we love about country living is the tranquility. We pride ourselves on the fact that, except for the chirping of the birds and the rustling of leaves, our farm is completely quiet.
And that’s the reason so many of our Airbnb guests enjoy their stay here. “I don’t remember when I’ve had such a peaceful time,” is what we hear. Or, “It’s only when we come down to a place like this that we realize what a constant hassle and racket the city is.”
So one day recently, I was doing some yardwork while a guest sat reading in a grove of trees just off to the side of the house. She was a professor and had a small stack of books next to her. Obviously enjoying the rural ambiance while she prepared for her next whatever.
First, I began mowing the lawn with my zero-turn, 25 horsepower Kubota mower. Riding in the Kubota makes me feel like a Chinese monarch being carried around in a sedan chair by six flunkies, except it makes such a racket I have to wear headphones. I usually tune it to NPR and, listening to subdued classical music, I’m barely aware of the roar of its diesel.
Next, I took out my gas push mower and trimmed all around the house. This baby is small and low, but when you start it up it sounds like it’s trying to be heard in the next county. But once I get it going, and put on my phones, it’s just a low rumble.
Then, what grass the mower missed, I nailed with my weed whacker. The weed whacker sounds like a Japanese Zero coming in on a kamikaze run. But again, with NPR playing sonatas, I hardly notice.
Later, I took out my backpack blower and circled the house cleaning up all the grass the two mowers had left behind. The blower screams out a high-pitched wail that becomes ear-splitting when I goose the gas, but, boy, does that baby blow—leaves run and hide and blades of grass do a disappearing act.
Realizing I had missed a few spots, I started up my hand blower and took care of those. Compared to the backpack, it’s only an angry whine.
Then it was time to mulch a few spots I missed, so I jumped on my John Deere 54 horsepower tractor, loaded the bucket up with mulch, and pulled it up to one of the front peony gardens. Now, my tractor is only 20 years younger than me, banged up and dinged by years of use. Its muffler has seen better days, and there are a couple of rusted out spots on the exhaust, so when she starts up, you know it. Not that it sounds anything like a train, but it’s so loud the thing could wake up any bears hibernating nearby.
I’m happily mulching away when I realize I need to weed-whip some grass bordering the garden. So I walk up and hop in the Gator to retrieve my weed whacker. Now, compared to the Kubota, the backpack blower, and the gas mower, the Gator just purrs.
But riding up to the garage, I stop and think for a second. Here we live in this bucolic and peaceful environment, but in the space of four hours, while our guest has been reading some arcane stuff in this beautiful country setting, I have loosed on her the racket of two mowers, two blowers, a weed whacker, a tractor, a Gator, plus a reprise of the weed whacker.
Seven machines on a peaceful summer afternoon. I guess that’s what you call a country symphony.