Friday, July 14, 2000
What A Wonderful Day!
The next time you think about driving out to the Cape or "down east" to the coast of Maine for a Fourth of July celebration, think twice. As far as I'm concerned, the best place to be on this very special American holiday is right here in Carlisle, with neighbors and friends and former Carlisleans, home for the holiday.
Carlisle has a small-town celebration that can't be beat! And it's thanks to all the planning and hard work of the Carlisle Old Home Day Committee and its many volunteers that make it possible, year after year.
The day starts off at 7:30 a.m. with the five-mile and then the one-mile road races heading down Church Street; the pancake breakfast is served from 8 to 9:30 at the Congregational Church; flag raising is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on the Green, followed by the awarding of the year's Conservationist and Outstanding Citizen awards, and finally, at 10 a.m., the Old Home Day Parade begins. With the Carlisle Minutemen leading the way, the parade follows in the route of the one-mile race, winding its way down Church Street, up Bedford Road, around the Circle, past the Town Green, and then on to its final destination, the school parking lot. Festooned floats, antique cars, and a variety of other entries, along with children on their decorated bicycles take part while townspeople, lining the roadways and crowding the Town Green, cheer them on.
As the day proceeds there is something for everyone. A frog-jumping contest on the Green; the Carlisle Cats playing many of their all-time favorite tunes from under a tent on the Green; the Country Fair; a bread and pie baking contest; an art show in the Corey cafeteria; a pet show in the afternoon and a corn husking. You can't possibly take it all in, but you try.
The day ends with a chicken barbeque supper put on at the fire station by the Carlisle firefighters, along with the popular Cakewalk, from which the winners take home a cake supplied by one of many volunteer cake bakers in the community.
By 9 p.m., if your family is anything like mine, you were ready to take the flag down and climb into bed. What a day, and it happens right here in Carlisle every Fourth of July!
Whatever Happened to Peace and Quiet?
I wonder what Thoreau would have written if his Walden peace was shattered by trucks, airplanes, lawnmowers, chain saws and blaring car radios? I know I have difficulty with the increasing loudness and frequency of environmental noise.
All day, every day, heavy sand and gravel trucks rumble down my street, shattering the peace with shifting gears and screeching brakes. As one truck leaves, its carefully staggered replacement arrives, with more shifting and rumbling and screeching. This has been going on so long I cannot remember when it all started, and it seems as if it will never end. One night, about 3:45 am, I was awake and listening to barred owls conversing when one of these large trucks came by and either obliterated the owls' sounds or drove them away.
Noise from the roadway is rivaled by that from the sky. All day, every day, aircraft leaving or bound for Hanscom are overhead. Small, private planes make a comfortable buzz on a summer day. That's not the case for jets when they take off. On days when the flight path is directly overhead, windows rattle. There is no escape. Bird songs are obliterated and telephone conversations must be interrupted until the noise is gone. Then there are the lawnmowers and chain saws, and the intrusive sounds of passing cars whose radios are going full blast. The approaching boom-boom-boom is audible long before any car is seen, and long after it has disappeared from view.
Some of this noise probably cannot be changed. Lawns grow and must be cut. Other noise can be limited, if not eliminated, Carlisle residents did this a few years ago when Town Meeting decided that a dog barking continuously for fifteen minutes at ten at night creates a noise disturbance, and imposed escalating fines for continued infractions. So, at a local level, we affirmed our belief that we are entitled to quiet in the evening by taking steps to curtail one type of disturbance.
Regional noise is more difficult to control than local noise. A regional association, the Hanscom Area Towns Committee (HATS), has already taken legal action intended to diminish the noise disturbance caused by increased commercial flights at Hanscom. HATS towns are Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln and Concord. Last September, Shuttle America began commercial flights out of Hanscom and now has 88 scheduled flights a day. According to recent Boston Globe articles (July 2 and 9), it seeks to increase operations. American Eagle has begun air service from Hanscom to JFK airport in New York. The Massachusetts legislature created a volunteer panel, with business and community membership, to address problems arising from Hanscom development. This panel is the Hanscom Field Advisory Committee (HFAC); Carlisle's seat in this group is filled by Wayne Davis. The HFAC advisory structure is surrounded by tension between MASSPORT, which oversees Hanscom, and the local communities, which do not have infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic. The old turf question of Worcester versus Hanscom as the best adjunct to Logan also continues to be a major regional dilemma.
It is impossible to have peace and quiet in one's chosen rural nest when other people's noise becomes an unwelcome intruder, Noise pollution is unlikely to go away, and the time has probably arrived when we must be active at both the local and regional levels to protect as much as we can of both.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito