Contrary to popular belief and first impressions, I have always had a love of silence; it is equal to, and perhaps greater than, my love of music.

In today's hyper-connected society, the ability to go for days on end in silence may actually have its own sub-section in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but to me it is a gift and a comfort.

Coming to Decorah from the Chicago area as I did, in August of 1995, with high hopes for a more peaceful life than would have been possible back in my hometown, I was stunned by the level of noise that assaulted my ears that first Saturday, and almost every Saturday thereafter, that summer.

I have always lived close enough to the racetrack to get a really good dose of the sound. (I had hoped that my relocation, in 2011, to a home farther away from the fairgrounds would render my Saturdays idyllically noiseless, but alas, sound travels uphill astonishingly well.)

At first, my irritation at this intrusion knew almost no bounds, and I have often wondered if perhaps my infuriated, fervent prayers for rain every weekend from 1995 on were not answered retroactively and all at once in The Year of the Flood (2008). I have been more circumspect since, in my petitions to the Almighty.

To read the rest of this column subscribe to Decorah Newspapers at 563-382-4221 for just 34 cents an issue. Or purchase one at any of the many convenient locations in Decorah and throughout Winneshiek County.