Editorial: Beauty and blaster
The golden time is upon us: Autumn’s annual show. The leaves turn — golden yellows, gorgeous reds and countless oranges in between. A gust of wind and they fall, twirling in fall’s lovely slanting sunlight.
It happens every year. And still in areas like Ridgefield, blessed with a wealth of trees, a sunny fall day can be astoundingly beautiful.
Lucky folks get to sit out in lawn chairs, warmed as that sun sinks into them, drinking in nature’s magnificent display.
A leaf blower. Blasting away, it’s loud all-consuming whine dominates what had been a peaceful morning, or afternoon.
In the realm of what’s wrong with the world, this doesn’t top of the list. There’s war, murder, hunger, injustice — suburbanites afflicted by overly loud leaf blowing seems like small potatoes. It is a small matter — and also a legal matter.
Ridgefield has a noise law: “It shall be unlawful for any person to emit or cause to be emitted any noise beyond the boundaries of his/her/its premises in excess of the following noise levels…” And listed limits are 55 decibels in daytime — defined as 7 a.m. to 8:59 p.m. — and 45 decibels at night, unless both the “emitter” and “receptor”’ are in a non-residential zone, where daytime noise may reach 62 decibels.
Exceptions include “parades, fireworks, historical reenactments, concerts and sporting events,” and “noises created by snow removal equipment.”
The ordinance also says: “Noise generated by engine-powered or motor-driven lawn care or maintenance equipment shall be exempted between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., provided that noise discharged from exhausts is adequately muffled to prevent loud and/or explosive noises therefrom.”
Maybe outlawing noisy machines, or setting legal hours, seems a little heavy-handed.
It also seems unenforceable. Noise meters? Really? Lawn lunatics will still be out there, roaring away, fouling the air with noise and smoke, killing the peace and quiet.
The thing is, there’s no need for this madness now. The leaves will be falling all of October and much of November.
Here’s an idea:
Wait till all the leaves — or nearly all — have come down, before assaulting the neighborhood’s eardrums.
It’ll be colder then. Folks won’t be sitting outside sipping their morning coffee.
Make autumn leaf blowing an annual — not weekly — ritual. Then the neighborhood won’t have mornings and evenings all through the golden season ruined by hideously loud whining machines.
And, for those who just can’t abide having leaves in their yard for a few weeks, there’s another solution: the rake.