Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's that sound?

Luiz and I used to live in San Francisco where the most common busses (trolley coaches, more precisely) are electric and are powered via wires strung above the street (which is why you have never seen a NYC-style Macy’s parade with balloons in SF).

One of the ambient and quickly ignored sounds of the city is that of these trackless trolleys passing through intersections with their electrical trolley poles skipping over the wires of the perpendicular lines of other routes. There is a little “powerless” gap right where the lines intersect. The act of crossing over these lines (going from powered, to no power, to powered again) can often result in a little electrical screeching sound. Sort of a high-pitched “squiggle-zip” sound.

Why do I mention this? Because every morning while I make coffee I hear this same sound coming from the light well across the hall from our apartment. It is this bizarre electrical short circuit-like sound that keeps repeating. It’s sort of annoying in its off-pitched and screechy way. And it makes me think the lights are about to go off.

I finally tracked the noise and discovered a cute little bird in a cage hanging just outside the window of our elderly neighbor. (Caged songbirds are rather ubiquitous here.) But what’s up with the squiggle-zip sound it makes? Where is the pretty tweet, tweet, tweet?

Maybe our neighbor has some form of high-pitched hearing loss and the little thing sounds sweet and melodious to her. I dunno. But I can confidently report this is no songbird in the traditional sense. Squiggle-zip. Squiggle-zip.

Oh well, at least I get a dose of saudade (“longing, homesickness, nostalgia”) for our old San Francisco haunt every morning.

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