As summer draws to a close, Active House Centennial Park has become our norm.  The kids are squabbling, the laundry always needs doing, the toys are starting to creep out into all rooms but some things still stop me on a daily basis.  The window at the end of the hall in the master bedroom, the view to the backyard from the kitchen, the shadows from our courtyard tree and the unravelling quiet that surrounds us.

I have never lived somewhere so quiet that wasn’t out in the sticks.  It’s not just the neighbourhood that is still, but the house itself.  The floors don’t creak, the bannister doesn’t rattle, the stairs are so solid that even Lucy’s thumps are somehow subdued.  One of the first things neighbours and friends alike mention when they tour the Centennial Park Active House is how solid it is, quickly followed by how quiet.  No old furnace or AC unit humming in the background, and the street noise muffled by multiple panes of glass.  However, old habits die hard and it took me weeks to realize that I could easily venture upstairs after bedtime.  That I didn’t have to pull out my cat woman moves to navigate the stairs and hall … tip toe up the first four steps, then only step on the front corner for steps five to ten, avoiding step 11 altogether and leaning heavy to the right as you get to the top before the final lunge over the loose floorboard in front of Poppy’s room.  No easy feat going to bed in Dundas and I certainly don’t miss it.

But while I tiptoe along the upstairs hall, and not due to squeaks and creaks, but because my footsteps punctuate the stillness, I am aware that the house can also be simultaneously and impressively loud.  There is a complexity to the noise, a layering of sound that threatens to overwhelm me. The sound travels in waves, literally, from the kitchen to the master bedroom, from the girls’ room to the living room.  The down side is that in the morning it feels like Russ is unloading the dishwasher outside our bedroom door, the silver-lining being that I can always hear what mischief the three monkeys are getting into no matter where I am in the house!  The girls revel in their squeals reverberate around the house, taking pleasure in how they echo upstairs and down. Yet when the girls are sleeping and the house is still, we find ourselves speaking softly, as the house requires us to be so.

Russ claims that the living room creates a great amplification for music, when the speakers are the only source of sound. I have yet to experience such tranquil listening, for when I play music it is generally at a time accompanied by lively dancing and made-up lyrics, but at least the house doesn’t shake in time with the footsteps.  I can hear the kitchen radio better in the master bedroom than I can while making supper amongst the layers of toddler, preschool and school-age noise. Yet Russ knows when I’ve rolled over in bed in the morning, because he can hear the sheets rustle while he sits on the sofa downstairs drinking his coffee!  The juxtaposition of quiet and loud boggles my mind and entertains the kids, I guess you could say that’s the best of both worlds.