I am attuned to sound. I have been since I was a child and liked to capture the sounds, voices and happenings in my world on my red Take ‘n Tape Panasonic cassette recorder. That fascination led me to my career as a journalist. Listening to sound also led me to create a company based on audio news to help students become better listeners. I even wrote a book about how to listen called Listenwise: Teach Students to be Better Listeners.

But I hadn’t thought about how the sounds of my daily life guide me through a routine and make me feel rooted in place until I arrived on the Vineyard. Now, from the moment I wake up in Edgartown to the call of the northern cardinals, I know I am among the scrubby oaks of the Island. The piercing sound of its call filters through my white noise machine and reaches me before my alarm clock. In my previous home in Brookline I was also often woken by high pitched piercing sounds. But they didn’t come from birds. They came from the beeping of a truck backing up into the school loading area next to my house. The school next door brought the many welcome sounds of children but also sounds of commotion. On the Island I listen to how the bird songs change throughout the day, depending on the time, weather or location.

Arriving at the Gazette office every day, the bells of the Federated Church welcome me to my office. I call the song that plays every day following the nine chimes of the hour, my welcome music. I didn’t recognize the hymns so one day I tried to use the music identification app called Shazam. But alas, Shazam couldn’t decipher the name of the hymn, probably because its computer program wasn’t trained on bells in a church built in 1828. The bells from the Federated Church tell me when it’s time for lunch and time to be rung home.

I have heard from long-time Islanders how the sounds of the Island have changed. There are more large trucks lumbering across the Island now, building what seems to be an endless number of luxury homes. There are more chainsaws, excavators and dump trucks building these homes. And there are more buzzing leaf blowers and lawn mowers. These all change the look and the sound of the Vineyard, and I am attuned to that too.

The ferry and its distant throaty horn comforts me. The deep horn travels miles from port and on a foggy day sounds ominous. Is it arriving? Is it departing? Either way, it serves to remind me I now live on an Island.

The changing population of the Island brings with it new sounds. In the summer, you can hear the world on Martha’s Vineyard. I listen to two Serbian summer workers making plans. I hear Brazilians in the grocery aisle deciding what to cook for dinner. I hear Jamaican accents and a couple from New Jersey wondering out loud how many trips the Chappy ferry makes every day. A rowdy crowd of men with Southern accents in Oak Bluffs asks what time the last ferry to the mainland departs.

Another sound that makes me smile is right under my feet. It is the sound of our Goss Community Press from 1975 printing the weekly newspaper. The press is on the first floor of the Gazette office. I thought it would be deafeningly loud but it’s a low, steady hum that rumbles the floor if you’re still enough to feel it. It runs steady like a freight train and sounds like tradition.