Since Spring is here in full force (complete with endless to-do lists and lots of being outside until the extremely late sunset), I’m afraid I’ve been inconsistent about writing here. I love to write, but these days I’m spending more time doubled over in the garden pulling dandelions or crouched on hands and knees inspecting the ground for signs of new emergence. [I direct seeded California poppies and larkspur a couple weeks ago and still no sign. Hmmm, should I try again?] Lucky for us, today is a rainy day and I am back at the keyboard, with a helpful prompt from Gayla at You Grow Girl.
This prompt encourages us to write about the way our garden sounds at the moment. A very useful exercise; I’m usually so focused on how pretty I want my garden to look to introduce another observational sense with different point of view.
I sat on my back porch and channelled those folks you see sitting on their porches in small towns just staring off into space. (Honestly no judgment here, just a new culture for me!) I let go of the work part of the garden and sat back and heard the wind and the birds take over. Lots of robins–they’re so loud!–and the occasional gang of crows warning the chickens of a hawk overhead. I respect crows and consider them my babysitters; they do such a great job of keeping the chickens safe when I’m not around, whether they’re just sounding the alarm or actually attacking a hawk in flight. Amazing.
Two windchimes keep me company regularly, one on the porch and one hanging from the chicken coop. On a breezy day both chimes might continually tap just one note in a rhythmic pattern. Since the leaves have just emerged (only the black walnuts have yet to leaf out) the occasional swoosh of the treetops hushes everything else as a breeze moves through. It’s the time of year when everything is getting pelted with spent maple flowers.
There’s a woodpecker who now and then lands on the barn roof ridge cap and pecks his heart out on the tin. At first I thought he might be a little ‘off’. But sometimes I hear in the distance an equally bizarre woodpecker-on-metal response, and I figure it’s probably more of a communication device than a way to obtain food. But maybe he’s also finding some tasty bugs who scatter when he makes their eardrums explode (do bugs have eardrums??).
I have to include the sounds of civilization, too: the passing cars, trucks, airplanes, the neighbor on his tractor if it’s a dry day. And every day at noon we get to hear the air siren from the fire department, which is more of an exciting audible clock than anything else (I love it). I feel so endlessly lucky to wake up to the sounds of relatively unfettered nature on a daily basis, to hear it as the main tune which the heavy machinery simply punctuates, instead of the other way around.
I was born and raised in an irritable cacophony, obviously not my choice. I spent my first eighteen years living three miles from National Airport (where the planes start take-off at 6AM), next to a set of railroad tracks that transported West Virginia coal to burn at the power plant two blocks away. The house still sits at an intersection of the busy GW Parkway where traumatic car accidents occur too often. That horribly familiar crunching of metal followed by pedestrian witnesses yelling “Sh**! One of the last times I was back home a police chase ended in that intersection, with the officer standing on top of the accused person right in the middle of the road, with his gun drawn until back-up arrived.
I am still haunted by those echoes when I’m out in my beautiful garden in the middle of nowhere, with the city so far away. Now I get to hear birds singing and leaves brushing up against each other; I am in awe that the world can be as pristine as it is right here.
I am so lucky to eat food from my garden and breathe clean air in this place. Here in my adopted home things look and sound so beautiful, I can’t help but breathe deeply and play in the garden as much as possible. A good move for me, and I am reminded of that every day, even in the quietude of winter.
So here’s to Summer, with its many sweet sounds of life unfolding!