There’s your rectangular-block, tidy-front-lawn suburbia (exemplified by my boyhood small town of Westfield, New Jersey), exurbia (the leafy, winding-road environs of Westchester and Fairfield counties — Wilton, Weston, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Chappaqua, Bedford) and finally your seriously serene Andrew Wyeth rich-folk farmland regions like the Berkshire foothills, where I was yesterday. Southfield, New Marlborough, Monterey, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Lenox.
I hadn’t visited this Western Massachusetts region since the mid ’80s, and had forgotten how quiet, how disarming, how completely far-from-the-madding-crowd it is. “Gently intoxicating” is one way to describe it The murmuring pines and hemlocks, and the occasional farm-fresh food stands by the roadside. There are whole regions in which your iPhone connectivity totally disappears, and you almost don’t mind. All you can hear is the grass growing.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m still a city boy at heart (and by that I mean Paris, Prague, Rome or Hanoi), but yesterday I felt as if I was 10 years old and sitting on a patch of tree-shaded grass and listening to a nearby waterfall.
“All Quiet on Fondamente de l’Arzere,” posted 14 months ago: There’s a soul-soothing atmosphere of quiet throughout the Dorsoduro and San Croce districts after dark. No scooters, no sirens, no thumping bass tones emanating from clubs, no half-bombed 20something women shrieking with laughter…just the barely-there sound of bay water lapping at pier pilings.
“There are many places, I’m sure, that are just as quiet when the sun goes down. But there are very few where you can’t even hear hints of civilization, where traces of the usual nighttime rumble aren’t at least faintly audible. I can sit at home in West Hollywood and feel cool and collected, but I’ll always hear the occasional helicopter or motorcycle whine or subwoofer speakers thumping in someone’s car or louche party animals roaming nearby. Venice is dead-mouse quiet, especially after 10 pm or thereabouts. You can hear a pin drop.