When a siren wails, so does Frankie.
She does it with the fervor of a coyote howling at a full moon.
When fireworks explode on holiday nights, she barks as if a burglar were breaking through a bedroom window.
When thunder rolls near, Frankie hides under the table.
Frankie has hated those noises since she was a puppy.
I understand, because certain noises make me want to hide my head under something as well.
Years ago I would put my ears under a pillow during rabbit season when beagles chased bunnies across my property at dawn.
The incessant barking of a dog is as annoying as a telephone, alarm clock or doorbell if I’m asleep.
A baby crying for hours on an airplane can drive me from my seat to a tiny restroom for a couple of minutes of the peace of just listening to the roar of a jet engine.
Even worse was when one of my own babies began to cry on a flight. That brought the triple pain of hearing the sound, feeling sorry for my daughter and knowing what others were enduring.
Luckily a flight attendant brought a slice of lemon for her to suck to relieve the pressure in her ears.
The sound of a baby crying when you can’t do anything to help is excruciating.
That’s true even if the baby isn’t human.
When I was a little boy, the neighbors separated a cow from its calf in the pasture between our houses.
I lay in bed most of the night listening through the open window as the weaning calf called for its mother and the mother responded in an equally mournful tone.
Another night, long before we ever dreamed of air conditioning, I listened all night to the screaming of a large family of screech owls that decided to spend the night in our trees. To a little boy able to imagine monsters and torture, the sound was frightening even though my parents tried to convince me that owls were the source.
The only owls I knew just asked “Who?” and did it from far away in the woods.
The next day I was amazed to see how small the creatures were that made the noise that kept me awake.
Some small creatures also make noises I like, but beauty is apparently in the ear of the listener. A guest at my home once complained of not being able to sleep because of the noise of the crickets and bullfrogs.
He lived in the city. It is there that I find many noises that disturb me.
Jack hammers, pile drivers, horns and the steady roar of traffic make me restless after a few days. And, like Frankie, I hate the sound of sirens.
Unlike her, I love the sound of thunder. Add the music of rain on the tin roof of my back porch and what is agony for Frankie is ecstasy for me.
Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@ the
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved