6/30/08

Nature's Music

How often do we pause to really listen to the world around us. This weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to just pause and listen. The sounds I experienced brought back wonderful memories and restored hope to my spirit.

I can remember my childhood past the age of about 8 fairly clearly. There are some memories locked inside that take a "trigger" to restore. Those are normally the less enjoyable memories or sometimes the purely simple memories. In my early years, summers were a time of relaxation, and personal adventures. There were five of us and, even though the old country/western store converted to a farmhouse had adequate room, we were often sent outside to enjoy/experience the outdoors. I think those were the times Mother actually got some cleaning done, cooking, sewing or maybe just sat to read one of those massive mystery novels she was always checking out of the library.

Many mornings, I got up, went and stole a couple of eggs from the henhouse and enjoyed a nice egg and toast breakfast with Mother. I was always a talker, so we never ran short of conversation. I think in the summers, the kitchen was a never ending short order service. Mother never really complained and as we grew older, she taught us how to handle our own in that particular room. Even my brothers were taught to cook and clean and it's benefitted them well through their years. There is nothing more divine than eggs fried in a cast iron skillet with slightly burned toast and home made bacon or sausage...oh for the days that I could eat like that and still zip my jeans!

After breakfast, Friskey, my beloved poodle/sidekick and I would head for the little woods and wonderful creek. We would pack our lunch. That hundred yard dash back to the house was reserved for real emergencies or for displaying our latest catch, not for lunches. I discovered the bread from the sandwiches made great "bait". I didn't have a real fishing pole. I would cut me a branch off a strong tree, we would tie some thick thread to it and make a hook out of a sewing needle. It was safer that way when I occasionally caught myself or Friskey. We never expected or accomplished catching anything big enough to challenge the homemade rigging.

I sat outside this past Saturday and realized the traffic from the distant highway was quiet. As far "out" as we live, we can still not escape the sounds of distant cars, trains, or airplanes. I have become accustomed to these sounds and tend to tune them out, but Saturday, they were quiet. Perhaps everyone else was doing what I was and taking a break or perhaps the oncoming storms were enough to cause people not to want to "get out". Whatever the reason, I heard things I had long forgotten.

Wind blows through trees and provides a melody all it's own. The sound of wind through piney groves is quite different from the sound through the oaks and sweet gum trees. The sound of wind through the decking adds a quick whistle to the tune. I remember that sound...being in the woods, stomping around in the creek and knowing by the sound of the wind whether or not it was safe to stay in the creek. A heavy wind left a sense of caution and would always cause me to look at the horizon for distant storm clouds. Distant storm clouds would often quickly become immediate storms complete with lightning and thunder...my greatest childhood fear. Friskey and I could make it to the house normally just in time.

Locusts voices ebb and flow with the wind to add to the orchestra. As rain clouds approach, they normally sing more loudly as if calling to the skies to quench their thirst. A locust song to me means summer, days of never-ending exploration and draws back clear memories of laying in the middle of a field of clover, just listening and feeling the sun warming my skin. The locusts always signaled the real beginning of summer - the heat, the humidity and the thrill of the occasional dunking in the creek.

A grasshopper when startled, will take off in full flight. They have beautiful wings. The sound from their wings can reveal the urgency of their flight. A whistling or sqeeking sound usually means something has startled them. Listen closer...perhaps horses hooves, dog steps or some other sound will indicate that something is trying to investigate what is laying in their path. You may want to move a bit so they know you are alive. A more fluttery sound tells you that the grasshoppers are simply doing what nature intended and working to either impress one another or just enjoying their temporary ability to fly.

Bees of all sizes leave their own signature in the wind. A honeybee or small bumble bee has a very soft buzz. A bumble bee is louder. Then there are the wasps. They travel short distances and land where a bee normally keeps buzzing, never resting while gathering the day's take. As a child, I more than once bore the stingers of these creatures when I got too close to their bounty or when I got too curious regarding what they were doing.

I spent only a brief time Saturday lavishing the sounds and memories upon myself. Then life called me back and I had to carry on with my chores. It was long enough to cause me to seek to remind my husband about the need for a hammock. I think there is a real need in our lives to stop and just hear. I tend to let my own voice or the urgency of my life these days hinder my exploration into the simplicity of the orchestra nature is always willing to present. I hope to have another break this weekend. I want to hear that music again.

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