Monday, November 18, 2013


Shhh . . . .

The quiet is almost surreal.

Only, it isn’t quiet.  Not really.  Off in the distance a raven calls.  The wind says hi, brushing through and rattling millions of tree leaves.  Against it all is the whisper of thousands of nearby early morning critters waking up: crickets, squirrels, songbirds.  It all makes for such a serene background to a writing chair and table.

An acorn drops onto the metal roof that overhangs my perch.  I hear it bounce down, a sound of irregular gravity-driven pops.  Then the thunk of acorn hitting wooden porch, and once again it is as quiet as the woods can ever be.

I recall, sitting here on the back porch of the cabin, laptop in lap and coffee cup beside, that the peacefulness of the back country is actually noisy, loud and -- well, and interesting.  For all of the volume, though, it is a completely different soundscape than what I’m used to in my normal life of cell phone chirps and IP-phone pages. 

This is the crazy symphony of the natural world; that isn’t.  This is the song of my youth.  I was raised in a different age, one where you had to find a phone line to make a call, where you had to have a dime and a nickel to coax a bottled soda out of the Coke machine, where kids had to make our own entertainment, and often as not that entertainment involved a lake or a patch of woods somewhere.  It was an age where writing this essay outdoors without invading nature’s song with the smackity-smack of typewriter keys would’ve required that now-antiquated stuff called pen and paper.

Both sets of background sounds change as the morning progresses.  Because I run a school, it’s noisiest just before 8:00 am.  Then, quiet, yet the sounds of the student crowd and college business crescendo back to a roar as the morning ripens.  Out here, it varies also.  The early morning chirps in the dawn hour have already given way to the quacks of the water birds now that it’s fully light.  Here and there, a man-made sound punctuates the wind.  The shot off in the distance reminds me of the presence of deer season.  A car door slamming shut nearby advises me that we’re not alone in the cabins.

This early morning drink of nature is exactly the refreshment my soul needed.  We came to find diamonds, and in a way we did.  We didn’t find any gemstones to bring back, which isn't surprising; only one out of every thousand or so visitors to the park ever does that. 

That’s okay.  For this morning, at least, I found exactly what I needed.


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