At the Walt Stark Campground in the Pillsbury State Forest near Pillager, Minn., there lives in spring, summer and fall a family of whip-poor-wills.
I don't know how long they've been coming back to the campground, but they've been there at least since 1999, which is the first year I started taking part in an annual horsebackriding/camping trip in the forest. Every night, rain or shine, these birds put on an evening concert. Or, maybe it's not a concert. Maybe they're just complaining to one another about the kids. It's loud and clear — Whip Poor WILL, Whip Poor WILL, Whip Poor WILL! It goes on for about a half-hour, and it's music to my ears.
Other guys in our group don't hear it that way. They hear it as a loud intrusion on our evening campfire conversations. One guy has threatened to shoot the birds. Another guy tries to scare them into stopping by running at where the noise is coming from, swiping his boots through the tall grass and rattling branches. It works. For about two minutes, and then they start right up again.
I use this experience as a way of explaining how I feel about the continual whining and complaining in this community about noise — or even the potential for noise, particularly as it applies to outdoor concerts.
The latest complaints are coming from folks who live near Barlow Plaza, where its owner, Steve Barlow, has proposed to schedule a few outdoor concerts on weekends this spring and summer.
C'mon. It's two or three nights a year. The concerts would be over by midnight. Relax. Enjoy the music, or shut the windows. We're a big city now. Let's celebrate the fact that we now have some fun, outdoor entertainment options during the summer — and, yes, even a few bars downtown — rather than complain.
When I arrived in Rochester I was in my 20s, and there was no end to the complaints about how boring and unexciting our town was. (Now, all of a sudden, we're TOO exciting?) Now that I'm in my 50s I haven't changed my tune. I STILL think Rochester could use more outdoor concerts in summer.