Several years ago, I underwent a hearing test at the VA Central Iowa Health Care Center, better known as the VA Hospital and Clinics. The results of the test determined that my hearing was normal. I know that’s a crock of crap, but I had a hearing test at Farmland Foods (now known as Smithfield Foods) in Denison, Iowa, back in the late 1980s. At that time, my hearing was also normal. I couldn’t hear well then; I can’t hear well now.
Our mother couldn’t hear very well. Of course, the Ryan kids suspected that mom had selective hearing. I may have inherited that trait. However, now that I’m as old as I am, I’m going to defend her. It’s my belief that mom was inflicted with ADD and OCD (not going to spell them out). “What?” becomes a habit.
But really, I am having a difficult time hearing Stephanie, the television, and the dryer buzzer, and many other sounds I want to hear, many of them existing in nature. Earlier this week, I thought of scheduling a new hearing test at the VA. After a few minutes, I thought to myself: ‘I should wait. Why would I want to hear firecrackers, fireworks, Harleys, and obnoxious music from people peddling bicycles on the trail?’
It’s that time of the year again in which the process of going to sleep becomes more labored than any other time of the year.
In Iowa, you can legally shoot off fireworks from 9:00 am until 10:00 pm from June 1st through July 8th. The hours are extended on weekends to 11:00 pm. That’s the legal limitations. People in our neighborhood must be on a west coast time zone.
When fireworks were illegal in Iowa, residents of the apartments on the south end of the block seemed to be the only neighbors who set them off. Now that it’s legal to blow your hand off, residents on all sides of us get into the action, especially on the nights of July 3rd and 4th. The past two years have produced bad-air warnings in Des Moines. You can see the thick fog of smoke early in the morning – and late in the morning.
My opinion on fireworks has vacillated throughout my life. First, I like them; then, I didn’t. When I was younger, if you gave me some firecrackers, cherry bombs, or M80s, I would explode them. Mostly, placing one under a can, lighting a fuse, and running away to see how far the can would go in the air.
It seems to me that buying something that disappears immediately upon using it is a waste of money. The older I get, the more I see that most of the fireworks around me are set off by those least able to afford them. But that’s not the total case. My neighbors to the north and to the west have the financial resources to purchase them and set them off and that’s what they do, it’s just not as consistent as the neighbors to the south. I have no idea what it’s like in other neighborhoods, but I must assume that shooting off personal fireworks is not limited to the less fortunate neighborhoods.
As for Harleys, they come and go. The full minute of listening to one-hundred decibels is no worse than the meat grinder I operated for ten to twelve hours a day when I was a sausage maker. It ran constantly at ninety decibels. In the final two years of operating that equipment, the company provided us with earplugs. Then, they gave us a hearing test. Everything was normal.
Bicyclists on the trail with the music turned up as loud as possible baffle me. One day last week I heard a bicyclist go by listening to George Thurgood. Actually, I heard him coming from over a quarter of a mile away. Later, I saw a commercial with a guy riding a Harley, and he was listening to the worst 1960s teeny-bopper music – Build Me Up Buttercup. Role reversal?
Stephanie and I walk every day we can, which is most days, including the winter. Listening to the birds and watching wildlife move around the trail is one of our treats. George Thurgood, Toby Keith, and Iron Maiden seem not to blend with nature. I would like to say that in late fall, we’ll have the trail to ourselves and the eagles, turkey buzzards, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, and deer. However, at that time the buzzards have migrated, as well as the red-winged blackbirds. The cardinals are sparse, and several other species are beginning hibernation. The deer will be with us, and so will a pair of eagles and their young (if we ever get introduced to them).
That’s the time to make an appointment to get my hearing tested. I’m willing to bet that my hearing is normal.