Monday, July 10, 2006

The Sirens of Astoria

Living out in the country where all is quiet except for the occasional cry of coyotes in the distance, I find I really appreciate the quiet. While spending some time at a hotel in San Francisco, we fortunately stayed in a hotel with windows that open, and hearing the sirens of fire trucks one evening, my wife said to me, “Those aren’t coyotes.” The sound was similar but indeed they were not coyotes.

Often spending time in the city of Astoria I’ve realized that Astoria is a noisy town. Perhaps the hill reflects and amplifies the sound, but it seems that no matter where you are you can hear sirens anywhere between Smith Point and Alderbrook. When you don’t hear the sirens of emergency vehicles and the CG and life flight helicopters you can tune into the other sirens of Astoria, the barking sea lions.

Fortunately Astoria residents are not all that noisy. You don’t hear a lot of automobile horns in town. Occasionally someone with a mental illness will be found making a bunch of noise here and there, but I understand he is back on his meds now.

There isn’t much industrial noises, hence the poverty among the working class. It was different back when the plywood mill was here. Pile driving even seems quieter since the ground beneath is liquefactions (and since Skip and Jim got their asses sued off). Safeway was never an issue, but in reality it should have been the focus of the land slide.

For those of you who don’t live here, much of Astoria is built on a hillside that has a history of land slides. There was a construction company driving piles for a new Safeway store while at the same time someone else was excavating the heal of a hillside and building a retaining wall to hold back the earth. Hundreds of feet above both sites the land started moving, houses with them. The residents sued the hill cutters rather than the pile drivers. Probably because they knew the cutters couldn’t afford the type of attorney Safeway could afford. Pretty sad after all that Skip has done for this community over the decades that I’ve been here.

That was a digression… Anyway, here’s to silence. Enjoy it when you have it. If the emergency sirens ever start getting to you just imagine the sounds are coming from a pack of coyotes howling at the moon.


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