A few years ago, my neighbor and I had a conversation while cleaning fish.
Jim Brakken, Bayfield County Lakes Forum President
Joe was on his dock. I was near mine. The content of our conversation I do not recall, although it probably centered on the morning’s catch. What I do recall is that, although Joe was on his dock and I was on mine, on this clear, calm morning we were able to converse in normal tone and volume even though we were about 200 yards apart. It was almost as though we were talking over coffee across the kitchen table.
A few years ago, my neighbor and I had a conversation while cleaning fish. Joe was on his dock. I was near mine. The content of our conversation I do not recall, although it probably centered on the morning’s catch. What I do recall is that, although Joe was on his dock and I was on mine, on this clear, calm morning we were able to converse in normal tone and volume even though we were about 200 yards apart. It was almost as though we were talking over coffee across the kitchen table.
Many of those who are unaccustomed to being near a lake may be unaware of the unique and wonderful acoustics of water. In another environment, sound can be absorbed by grass, rocks, walls, trees, cars and everything else that it bumps. A lake is quite different. The water surface reflects sound. The smoother the lake, the better and farther sound travels. This effect is amplified by morning and evening air inversions, making sound carry farther and clearer yet.
This unique condition can cause some problems. First and foremost, we all need to realize that every conversation which takes place on or near water can probably be heard over a long distance. Family discussions and other conversations of a sensitive nature should be kept within our walls. Be sure guests and youngsters are aware of this. Next, we all need to realize that what some consider normal sound may be noise pollution to others. To twist a phrase, one person’s treasure may be another person’s trash!
· The joyous sounds of kids playing on the beach may be music to your ears, but maybe not your neighbors. We have two simple rules for kids swimming at our house:
1, talking while swimming is fine, but anyone shouting or screaming has to take a 10 minute time out. And, 2, the only time we shout ‘help’ is when we really need help.
· In the summer months, try to avoid any use of chain saws, lawn mowers, or similar power tools early in the morning or late in the day. ,
· Save your fireworks for the July 4th weekend.
· Target shooting during the summer is best done at the local gun club. (Target shooting near water is a very dangerous proposition. Never shoot at or toward the water! You’ll have no idea how far that bullet will go or where it will end up!)
· Avoid using your outboard before breakfast. Try to use your electric motor or your oars. Think of those sleeping with their windows open. Try to keep a good distance from dwellings throughout the day, also.
· Quiet your pets. Our dogs are encouraged to alert us when they sense someone entering our vicinity. If they continue to bark, we either quiet them down or take them inside. It is very annoying to have a dog bark at you as you quietly float down a shoreline. If warranted, consider an electronic training collar for your barky dog.
· Tum down the volume on your stereo or TV. Your favorite entertainment may not sound so good from across the lake, even though it’s coming from inside your house.
We all need to work to combine the unique and wonderful characteristics of lake acoustics with common courtesy. Throw in a handful of understanding, too, because on rare occasions we will hear sounds from an early morning construction crew, reports from a duck hunter’s gun, a chain saw or the bark of a watchdog on the job.
Numerous surveys show that the number one reason people come to our lakes is for the peace and quiet. If we are always aware that sound carries across water and we make an effort to control our noise, our lakes will sound more like they did a century ago. And that is good for us all and good for the lakes!