Pipe down, people, summer has come to Naperville

Jonathan Miano / Staff Photographer

It’s June. Do you know who your neighbors are?

I know, silly question — especially in this town, where people generally get on quite well with the folks next door. They keep an eye on the neighborhood, many giving nary a second thought to dropping off a bag of zucchini just picked from the garden, or clearing away snow from the next driveway over. Yet it begs asking at this time of year, when things occasionally can go horribly wrong in the neighborhood.

Yes, ‘tis the season of neighbors, good and bad.

Particularly this time around, when we were holed up inside for the winter’s long and unforgiving string of frigid weeks, the arrival of summer is enormously sweet. Even cutting the grass is a zenlike experience — though I sense that’s beginning to fade a bit, now that the spring rains cause the lawn to begin looking shaggy about five minutes after the mower’s been put away.

Still, the long, warm days that now at last predominate give us a chance to get to know our community anew, to remember why we chose to put down our roots here. Summer coaxes us out of our family rooms to drink in the warm breezes, the scents of blooming shrubs, that splendid sound crickets make at dusk.

Still, the sensory pleasures have their limits, sad to say. That’s where the good neighbor thing comes in.

With pleasant overnight temperatures not yet yielding to the muggy and sticky conditions assured of coming to roost in just a few short weeks, the windows can be thrown open wide to welcome the fresh air and bird’s song. The unfortunate corollary of that is the night owl and the early bird.

On my street, where some of us tuck in at a civilized pre-midnight hour most nights, not everyone keeps the same schedule. It’s not unusual for the younger folk up the block to come home from socializing for the evening, post last call, and make quite evident their sustained merriment, out there in the open air, in the wee hours of the morning.

I don’t want to be that crabby old neighbor lady who calls the cops and ruins everybody’s fun, but for crying out loud, I wish they’d use their inside voices instead of a volume indicative of some sort of amplification equipment. And maybe watch their language a little better. It does no one in my house any good to have me wake up crabby at 2 a.m. and never really return to the luxurious cocoon of slumber.

Unwelcome noise happens at the other end of the day, too — which perhaps provides a touch of symmetry. But I’m not so sure about that.

There are local rules about when sounds like hammering and amplified music are OK in town, and when they’re not. If you secure the needed permit to use an amplifier for a party or other event, the thing has to be powered down after 10 p.m. And even if the sun’s up and the birds are serenading, the amp can’t be turned on until after 9 a.m. — or noon, if somebody’s house is fewer than 200 feet away.

Code enforcement aside, it’s a simple matter of being a good neighbor. Naperville’s City Council talked about it a little recently.

“I’ve gotten phone calls about people putting up a sound system at 6 a.m. and all they hear at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning is ‘check-check,’” Councilman Grant Wehrli said, tapping his mic for effect.

That’s bad behavior. Nobody likes that.

Noise pollution is a real thing. Excessive stimulation of the auditory canal causes agitation. OK, I’m not actually sure that’s true, but it feels plausible, so let’s go with it.

So maybe, as we dive into another season of sun, fun and backyard chilling, this would be a good time to take a look around at where we live and the people who’ve made the same call as we have.

But please keep it down, will you?

And by the way, I love the aroma of fresh-cut grass as well as the next guy, but if you fire up that mower before the birds start to sing, I’m calling the cops. It’s actually true that there are no local laws that say when it’s too early to use lawnmowers and snowblowers, but I had little sleep last night and am a touch crabby.

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