Saturday, September 3, 2011

Is that sound coming from inside the house?

Hervey Bay. Australia.  By the beach.

It's a beautiful living room with a large TV with 50 channels (that's the Australian version of a lot of channels) (1)
Out one set of windows is the ocean view.
On the other wall is the stove, fridge, and pantry.

A relaxing place.

Every few hours, a shriek comes from this wall.  Like a loud, shrill, punctuated scream from a squirrel or a dolphin who found a brick of cocaine that fell off a smuggler's ship.

Which side of the wall is it on?  Is it in the middle?  Is it making its way in like a raccoon?
What do you do if such a shrieking animal finds its way in?

We had a squirrel eat its way through the screen door in Chicago.   I guided it with a broom back to the door.
We only have a push broom here.  I don't think that it is going to work.

In an Adelaide magazine, a college student described how a friend's house had a stench to it while his own had no smell.  He eventually realized that he was accustomed to his own family's "stench" and even the "stench" of his hometown (3).

Back in America, we are accustomed to the strange noises of Durham.  In South Durham , we lived on the very edge of the city.  Walk across the road, and you are in the county. Walk a few minutes further, and you are in Lake Jordan game preserve lands, where hunting is allowed.  So you hear gun shots every once in a while.  You get used to it.

These new Australian noises can be unnerving when you are not used to them.

So the push broom sits in the corner, ready for defensive action.  But then it falls on the floor, creating another hair-rising sound.

After a couple of weeks, we have gotten a little used to the many birds.  However, there is still of them are horror movie birds.

There are certain sounds before people die in a horror B-movie on late night basic cable.  Someone saying, "Let's split up."  The empty sound of a deserted house or forest.
Then very often, the caterwauling, laugh-like shriek of some bird that is everywhere but nowhere.  You never see the sources of the warning sounds.  But you know what is going to happen next.

Someone is going to die. Pass the popcorn.

Here in Australia, I don't think I am going to die, but the sound still brings on an uneasy state of mind. Sounds evoke feelings, like when hearing a song meaningful to a romance.  The words or melody don't have to be any good per se - they just evoke a feeling.  We saw the Spice Girls movie on our honeymoon (it was raining a lot, so the beach didn't work), so hearing a bad song from the Spice Girls can still make me happy.  Speaking of shrieking noises, the Australian bird noise puts me in a place of elevated tension.  

But some day the lion will lie down with the lamb.
I hope to identify and approach the caterwauler. Then he will alight on my hand and sing his shrieking song.  Instead on feeling unease, I will smile, thinking of our proximity to the beach.   And Lara will throw some extra poultry on the barbie (4).

(1) There's still nothing on (2).
(2) Except Conan, which comes on channel 80 a few nights a week.  Craig Ferguson is not too bad either.  He hosts the late late show in America (after Letterman), but here he is on earlier than Letterman or Conan.  And some subtitled foreign films. And some American sitcoms.  Okay, maybe there are a few things.
(3) Of Adelaide, he said it "is not the place to spend the springtime of one's existence".  Hey, we liked it.
(4) Or tofurkey if that works better for your sensibilities, but I think it distracts a little from the story.  There's no sound coming from soy.  Peace and love, regardless. And a shout out to the whole world.


  1. The family did mention some crazy sounding birds when we met them at the airport. Do you think there's a bird that hangs out on the other side of the wall, or do you think it somehow got IN the wall. Freaky. If Applejack was there, he'd REALLY be seeing dead people.

  2. An update on this post: our hosts have since informed us that this really loud creepy sound is coming from a gecko, not a bird. So in addition to selling car insurance, apparently they can kill you in your sleep.