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Sounds from the Basement

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looking down into cellar

This is the time of year we renew our acquaintance with the sounds coming from the basement. The windows are down, the storms are up, and our attention is drawn indoors.

Our reacquaintance with the sounds made by the Inn is particularly acute this year because we have not lived in the innkeeper’s apartment since 2017, which is when we decided to recruit experienced innkeepers to help us with the task of running the Inn after also purchasing the Hancock Market across the street. To accommodate the new innkeepers, we moved out of the apartment and up the road to our cabin on Hunts Pond.

Last fall we sold the Market and after allowing all the dust to settle, here we are back in the apartment behind the Inn, where it is quite comfortable and lovely.

I am a listener at night. Not all night, but when I awake at any point, and as I lie there waiting to return to sleep, I listen for the noises, to get to know them.

That is a furnace. That is the expanding and contracting of the pipes carrying hot water. That is a refrigeration fan. Right now, the water is still flowing in the koi pond not far from our apartment window, meaning the sound it makes is not water from a hose or broken pipe. That is good.

Last night there was a different noise. I got up and followed the noise to outside the building. An air conditioning compressor was running. A guest had mistaken the in-room air conditioner remotes for heat controls. I reported this to Marcia when I came back inside. “Tomorrow,” she said, “I will remove air conditioner remotes from rooms for the winter. We usually do. Just haven’t done that yet.”

It is the beeping noises that go bump in the night. Beeping noises are alarm noises. None is more fearful – apart from fire – than the high-water alarm for the septic, and it happened once long ago that in the night I heard a beeping – more like chirping – and followed it to the high-water alarm in the kitchen. I ran outside in the dark expecting to feel a wet lawn under my feet. It was not, but I could stand over the pump chamber and listen to the septic pump running constantly below. Help was not available until early morning, and when it arrived, we chased the source of water pouring into the septic to a third-floor bathroom toilet that had the chain wrapped around the flapper holding it wide open in the tank.

There was a beeping from the basement below the apartment a few weeks ago that sourced to a cable television terminal of some sort tucked up between the joists. We called the cable company.

“Beeping?” they asked.

Yes.

Huh, they answered.

They replaced the terminal, and it no longer beeps.

The day may be coming when there won’t be noises from the basement, or from machinery elsewhere around a house. We had to replace the furnace at Hunts Pond and the new one is practically silent. The rise of the electric car is certainly changing noises on the road. I can’t remember if electric baseboard heating makes a noise. It’s just too expensive.

Right now, our focus is on the crackling fire in the fireplace. The chime behind reception has just tolled five-fifteen in the early evening. There is a bit of wind against the building. We are waiting for the door to open and two guests to arrive.

It is pretty quiet right now.

Oop, there goes the furnace.

looking into window

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