Living Primitive With Hearing Loss

I’m staying at a friends cabin for a month or so. It’s in Arizona, along famous Route 66 about 30 miles from Seligman, Arizona. It’s off the grid, meaning the only electricity I get is the kind I make. There is a solar panel, six batteries and an inverter. Two hours a day I turn on the generator to charge up the batteries and anything else in the house such as my laptop, my phone and my iPods.

Because of the quiet, I hear more than ever especially with the new program set in my hearing aids. I hear birds and I have no idea what kind because I haven’t heard them so long. One my mom identified for me the other day, a raven. The next morning, I heard one faintly without my hearing aids… now that I knew the sound. Walking on gravel is LOUD. It reminds me of people chewing with their mouth open. The train tracks go through the valley on the other side of the hills a few miles away. Sound carries and sometimes I feel like I’m right next to the track instead. It spooked me the first few days making me look over my shoulder. Some sounds I haven’t identified yet but hope to some day when I get a visitor again.

Living in the middle of nowhere, which is somewhere but to a lot of people it’s nowhere, has it’s challenges with hearing loss. One of the first things I almost fouled up was the inverter, all important for some electricity after the generator goes off. The batteries and inverter sit in a metal box lock box cemented into the ground. One morning I went out to charge the batteries because cloud cover came in so the solar panel wouldn’t do much. While the batteries charge, I use my big computer to touch up pictures and maybe write a little. My computer sits with my back to all windows. It started to rain and I didn’t know it. I didn’t hear it with the generator on and to be honest, I don’t normally hear it anyway. Some thunder rumbled so I got up to take a look. “Oh crap!!! It’s raining!” Too late. The inverter read OLP (over load protection).

The inverter whistles when batteries are low or OLP. I can’t hear the whistle. I called my friend and he could hear the whistle over the phone. “You can’t hear that?” he asked three times. I wish people would believe me when I tell them first time but I guess it was loud. He talked me through disconnecting the cables to shut it down and let it dry out. Thankfully, the next day it worked again.

Rattlesnakes live out here and I can’t hear their warning. I try to remember every time I take a step off the deck to look around. Rattlesnakes have been known to hide in the shade during the hottest part of the day and there’s lots of shade under there. Sometimes I step off without looking but 80% of the time I do. I take a walk around the property twice a day, once in morning and then at night. In the morning, rattlesnakes hang out in the sun because their body needs a certain temperature to operate. I remain very alert on rocky parts of the road, scanning the road constantly looking for them. On open dirt road I let go and enjoy the view.

The last time I saw one many years ago, was in the afternoon sitting near a tree trunk. I wasn’t paying attention, had my hearing aids in, following the path which went close to the tree. My mom’s friend jerked me back by the shirt and pointed it out to me. It rattled for all it’s worth and I never heard it. On my walk in the evenings or late afternoon, I still scan the rocky parts but I also steer clear of bushes and trees. I haven’t seen one yet. I wonder if my new programming will pick up the rattles or am I oblivious still? Maybe I’m lucky.

When my son was here, we slept with all the doors open. With him gone, I shut them. I don’t think anything could happen but better safe than sorry. I don’t sleep with my hearing aids in but I think I would hear something, if someone came in. Though it freaks some people out, like my sister, it’s really the least of my worries. I’ve met a few neighbors already and they are friendly. All the cabins are spaced sine distance away from each other. One is close to me but I haven’t met him yet. I’ve been told he’s friendly and watches over the place when no one is here.

Last night I fell asleep laying on the deck watching the last of the sunset fade away and the stars come out. No noise except my cat jumping around and the train here and there. I feel comfortable, aside from the snakes.

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2 responses to “Living Primitive With Hearing Loss

  1. Cathy Zimmerman

    Chelle,
    Thanks for writing about a different way of living — off the grid and off the sound. Rattlesnakes! Never considered how animals warn us with sound, but they do! It’s okay when we can see them roar or bark, but as you say, they only make their presence known with their tail.

  2. So far so good, I haven’t seen one yet. It’s probably a matter of time and hopefully I’m careful.

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