I live in a "suburb" of Colorado Springs. Our house is on a hill. Down the hill from us, a mile or so away, is a railroad track that is moderately busy most of the time with coal trains: empty northbound and loaded southbound. Running parallel to the train tracks is a State Highway which is fairly busy most of the day. About a mile or more from the tracks and highway is I-25, a freeway that stays busy almost 24/7. On the other side of the freeway is Fort Carson, an Army base housing the 4th Infantry and various supporting units and the 10th Special Forces, al- together totalling more than 13, 000 soldiers. Just north of us is Peterson AFB, which shares runways with the Colorado Springs Airport.
On any given day you will hear trucks on the highway, an occasional train, a fairly steady roar from the freeway, airplanes coming and going, and rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire from the ranges at Carson. We got a new General there a couple of years ago who thought it would be nice to share the bugle calls with the community so he turned up the volume on the speakers on post so all five bugle calls can be heard all through the area. In other words...it is rarely quiet. Oh, it's not as noisy as Denver or any other big city...but it is not a quiet place.
I find a lot of it comforting...I'm an old soldier and the sound of artillery is kinda nice...like the back-up is always around. Late at night the sound of Taps echoing around the foothills is kinda poignant and restful while at the same time causing one to contemplate those who have gone on before. I like the sounds of my home.
This morning I was out in the back yard of my son's house here at Fort Huachuca, visiting with my grandson. He is a remarkable young man with an amazing mind. While I watched him tightrope- walking on the block wall I marvelled at how quiet it was. It is a holiday for most GIs and government workers today, so the hustle and bustle of the daily grind is gone, but allowing for that, it was almost as if someone had pushed the "Mute" button. I saw cars moving in the distance, people were out in their yards, and I assume that some commerce is being conducted on post somewhere...but by comparison to Carson, Fort Huachuca is like a graveyard.
Wednesday night we were in town picking up some of those last- minute items you always forget for Thanksgiving. It was dark out and it looked like most of the businesses were closed. All of the lighting on all of the commercial buildings and stores was muted and dim. We were going into Safeway and I wasn't even sure it was open until we pulled up to the door and saw there were people inside shopping...but even inside the lights were dimmer than what I am used to.
It turns out that this area of Arizona is making an effort to avoid "light pollution" by purposely dimming outside lighting. Hmm. I wasn't aware that light was so harmful to the desert...I mean, during the day it gets more light than almost anywhere...but I guess the effort is to save the eyes of the bats and owls or something. I have heard that in Florida some counties have outside light restrictions during the hatching season of sea turtles. The baby turtles confuse patio lighting for the moon and go the wrong way and never get to the ocean. So maybe this is something similar; avoid overly bright areas in town so that...what? I don't know. It has been my experience that "overly-bright" is not usually a problem in this part of Arizona (sorry, Rose). Be that as it may, we must all do our part...I guess New Mexico feels the same way since I spent an extra forty-five minutes last Tuesday sorting out the I-25/I-10 interchange in Las Cruces ( in the dark with few to no lights and only one portable unlit sign telling you how to make the switch)...we were half-way to El Paso before I got it figured out. But the night fliers and nocturnal lizards are less threatened and I suppose that's a good thing.
I don't know who thinks this stuff up but I am sure they are people with a public education and lots of letters after their names. In any case, I like the quiet but not so much the dimming of the lights...makes me wonder if it is my eyes or their wattage.
Since Fort Huachuca is where it all started for me and MC, I have a fond spot in my heart for the place (although, as reported last year when we were here, it has changed so much I hardly recognize anything) and will put up with a few strangenesses.