At night our neighborhood takes on a completely different persona.
It is no longer the leafy, hilly grid of late-19th century streets where people walk their dogs and their children, using the street, not the sidewalk as a walking path because not all the blocks have sidewalks. The mix of professors, teachers, bankers, laborers and health care workers who live in the houses here are sleeping (or like me, they are trying to).
But someone walks the streets dragging things around. And someone else yells things into a bullhorn.
The dragger first: For nearly a decade, on odd nights all year round, I hear the rattle of something that might be a wagon or cart being dragged or pulled down the street. It starts to the south and moves north toward the river. It is loud enough to wake me, and sometimes it takes a while for me to realize it is what I've come to think of as The Night Noise that has interrupted my precious sleep.
Someone is moving things at a time when they are likely to be unnoticed. Or, as I once suspected, perhaps someone is scavenging for things.
I cannot jump out of bed and rush to the window. Well, I could - were I lucid enough - but the cedar trees block my view. By the time I am awake enough to comprehend that The Night Noise is back, whatever is making the noise has traveled farther north and is out of view.
The Bullhorn is something else entirely. We have heard it all year round and at all times of evening or early morning. There was a time when I thought it was coming from a large mill located up the river, but the words projected by the bullhorn are not words that would be said over a public address system, if you get my drift.
I've asked neighbors about it. Apparently, my husband and I are the only ones who have heard it and it was only last year, or perhaps the summer before, when my husband finally heard The Bullhorn for himself.
Living as I once did in a series of urban apartments, I have heard many odd and alarming sounds at night. But these noises baffle me, and I won't be happy until I discover their source.
Tired as I am after a night of sleeplessness last night, I did see "Julie and Julia" tonight. It's been a long time since a movie has engaged me that much, even though I knew the outcome. See it, if you have not.
The photo is from May 2007: Rue de Monttessuy, 7th arr., Paris.