Thu. Apr 18th, 2024

    They come out when the weather is cold, but less so when too cold. Summers, falls, springs they quietly hide near people’s houses: their garages, sheds, under covers, under tarps. These bees thrive in snow. Depending on the weather, noisy, angry bees buzz by my house daily, nightly: bashing eardrums. Some nights I wake up to their buzz. I’ve heard them buzz early into the mornings. There are days I wonder if the whole neighborhood, and even our house, is infest with angry bees. In our blast house bees loved to infest the walls, there are days I wonder if they followed us north.
    These are weird bees: they smell of slightly burnt two cycle oil. When life goes into reverse their buzzing sounds like it’s choked off then suddenly, Lazarus-like, they loudly buzz back to life.
    We decided to join the bees last year. Now we swarm with the bees, flying through the woods, around towns, deep into the wilderness where few go during the summer.
    These bees are snowmobiles.
    I partially grew up in snowmobile country, but they didn’t really become popular until the mid 60’s. Even part way through the winter I would use a kind of snowshoe called a bear paw to get where I wanted to go. The farther back in time you go in the 60’s the more a unique anomaly snowmobiles were. Owned by people who lived in remote parts of Alaska. Or places like Beaver River where, during the winter, snowmobile meccas like Beaver River can’t be accessed other than by ski plane or snowmobile.
    I had forgotten what it sounded like living in snowmobile country. Is my memory faulty? I remember snowmobiles being noisy, but not this noisy.
    I used to snowmobile in the late 60’s and early 70’s. During the winter it was the best way to get around, to meet the school bus in Big Moose, and the best way for a less than athletic kid to have fun. Twitchell Lake, where we lived, is remote with steep hills in and out that challenge any car, 4 wheel or not, in the winter. Out is the most challenging with a momentum killing slippery curve.
    Retiring and returning home in 2022 we decided to buy a snowmobile. Knowing there used to be days when just getting around to certain places we both love to go could be a problem, so we bought one. Oh, and I longed to visit places aging bodies can no longer walk to in the summers.
    I admit I’m rekindling the joy, but why must they be so noisy? Some days I long for electric snowmobiles, yet I know there are limits to electric propulsion. Snowmobiles, by definition, operate in the cold. Batteries not as much when they are your only means of propulsion in cold weather.

Big Moose, NY
    Yet, I do long for a silent snowmobile. I love the silence of the wilderness. Love days when the only sound disturbing the utter peace is the crack of trees when the temperature dips way below zero. Most of my snowmobile time was spent on a 2-mile lake where the closest town has a population so low some seasons it’s unusual if there were 20 people in downtown Big Moose. As much of a “downtown” as Big Moose has.
    Is it any accident, any coincidence, that as a society we have grown louder too? Or is this just the memories of an old man? I remember the riots, the protests, Kent State, Nam, the assassinations, yet there’s something else to today’s noise. A lot of noise today seems to be for the sake of making noise: performative whining, performative anger; tantrums unworthy of kids in a Walmart shopping cart. Everything is world ending, economy destroying, cats will commit suicide, dogs will eat the cats, visiting aliens will decide we’re a comedy club and bring popcorn.
A lot like the snowmobile I rode part way to school in the early 70’s. As you can see below they are a lot different now.
    Or am I just another grumpy old man, a time when people grow deaf yet find noise annoying? There are indications: I have less patience with commercials. The Colonial Penn guy seems overly sweet to me, phony, speaking tones so soft tones it seems patronizing. The Spectrum guy is on the other end of the scale: always yelling. Pure performative nonsense. GO AWAY!
    If you don’t have Spectrum I’m sure your carrier has someone as annoying.
    Every time I put my Polaris in reverse, I am reminded of how easily people switch positions with hardly a beat. They get really quiet for a brief moment, then make as much or more noise heading the other direction as if that’s what they intended all along.
    There has been little snow here as of late, but slowly it’s returning. Soon we will join the chorus of the bees, and if they sound angry to others then be comforted it’s only for a short part of the year.
    And for those of us who add to the buzzing of the swarms, snowmobiling provides a great escape from the other kind of angry bees. For that I will be grateful.


    “Inspection” is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 50 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
©Copyright 2023
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions.
All Rights Reserved.

By Ken Carman

Retired entertainer, provider of educational services, columnist, homebrewer, collie lover, writer of songs, poetry and prose... humorist, mediocre motorcyclist, very bad carpenter, horrid handyman and quirky eccentric deluxe.

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