I arrived at last in a new dwelling, escaping from eternal works against which my spirit fought unhappily. Every morning I drank coffee in front of the crane integrated into the landscape of my window, trying on an assortment of headphones and earplugs incapable of soundproofing such a festival of concrete mixers. An exasperating chatter pierced my meninges, since noise, as Schopenhauer well defined, is "an interruption of thought". After months of searching, we found a flat that overlooks nowhere, and where you can breathe mint. Everything seemed idyllic until I caught a glimpse of the B-side of the surrounding polished gardens. "Do the machines come by often?", I asked the real estate agent. "In autumn, once a week". And, naive of me, it seemed plausible, even reasonable.
September was beginning and the tops of the cherry trees were lighting up with yellow brushstrokes. From the seventh glass window, the whistling of the wind filtered through the windows, portending stormy peaks in Madrid. In any case, it was a sound like the hum of cars entering a freeway. Another thing is the disabling noise.
I remember a conversation with the writer Enrique Vila-Matas about the slow neuronal destruction produced by the constant, high-pitched, piercing screeches. And he related to me a real episode that he named: "the day of flying vegetables", in which he ended up throwing tomatoes in the yard of a neighboring school. "The noise grew with such intensity that it had prevented me from writing for months. That day I let go of my killer instinct. And I'm sorry, but I knocked a little girl down. They filed a complaint that was dismissed, because I proved that it was impossible for the vegetable to have left my house. As a good method actor, I argued: 'It's impossible, there are no children in my house!' As if I wasn't able to do it."
This time it has not been the works that follow me wherever I go, like a conspiracy, nor the botellots – which also touched me at another time – but the rubble of machines that progress should have buried a long time ago . Invasive, irritating and dangerous, their 100 decibels make a mockery of the law. They replaced brooms and rakes, which cleaned the streets of leaves when the carpet was already too thick, the same one that over the years inspired artists like Van Morrison in that famous autumn song: When the leaves come falling down.
But the trend of in-laws prevailed among gardening tools. So much so that, nowadays, I have become an expert observer of those who move forward with a leaf blower between their legs, using it like in a video game. There are those who seem aware of the danger they carry and walk hunched over. Perhaps they have spoken to their pulmonologists, a sector that has already warned about its harmfulness to the lungs, since by dispersing garbage dust, fungi, bacteria and all kinds of toxic residues, it enhances infections. Its technology is more outdated than a Seat Panda and its advantage, stupid, because instead of cleaning, they dirty.
At present they are among the most polluting devices, and it is surreal that they roar daily next to the recycling containers in search of the beautiful feuilles mortes. I am not comforted to know that green justice will soon fall on these oil burners, cornered by their electric version, 20 decibels lower. Autumn in the cities will continue to be affected by blowing hysteria.