Like a November fog

Published 8:23 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

There was a time when this world was a little quieter. Before motors and sirens and amplifiers. Before jets plowing the skies dropped their thunder on creatures below. Before screens with moving pictures saturated households with orchestrated sounds from a thousand miles away. Before the air became a highway for songs to be funneled against the eardrum. Before ringtones cut the atmosphere at shops and malls and offices; during the play or the sermon or the board meeting; in mid-conversation or mid-sentence; mealtime, naptime anytime.

Peel these away and sounds of a different sort, like a November fog, seep in to fill the void.

There’s the voice of the wind. It makes wind chimes out of leaves, blowing against oak trees and sycamore trees and dogwoods. It whistles through fences and rattles window panes. It is its own composer with man as audience, carrying on its shoulders the barking dog from across the river, the honking geese in the southern sky, the hidden hoot owl planted in the swamp.

There’s the sound of an open winter fire, nestled behind the hearth, falling in upon itself as the scaffolding burns away. Popping and cracking when invaded by a new log, the sounds themselves seem to warm one’s soul.

There are the gentle sounds of human activity.

The rocking chair on the front porch, like a ship tilting fore and aft, as wood rolls against wood making its own rhythm.

The sound of walking when soles meet soil over and over and over, its intervals determined by the length of legs. “Pat..pat..pat..pat..pat..,” go little legs hurrying to keep up. “Kalum……..kalum……..kalum……,” go deliberate steps of maturity, their owner on a mission. “Shuffle…shuffle…shuffle…,” the old legs go, supporting a humped-over back and squinting eyes studying the intended route.

There’s the slurp that is brother to the swallow of the first cup of coffee in the morn.

There’s the yawn, the stretch, the cracking of the bones.

There’s the great show in the sky when those two conquistadors thunder and lightning explode against each other and hurl their effects down upon trembling mortals as the aftermath, like an ongoing laugh, rumbles through buildings and walls, mocking their resistance.

There’s the babbling brook, the gurgling stream, the cascading waterfall, all three relentless chatterers, like lonely widows, conversing with whoever stops to listen.

And there’s the absence of sound, far from the city on a moonlit night when breeze takes her rest and creatures shut their eyes and silence- pure silence- permeates the landscape.

Simple sounds. Gentle sounds. Sounds of the earth. Can you hear them?