sounds

listening

To this day, I love the soft, hoof to dirt rhythm, of a gallop. Clop clop clop clop, horse and rider, dust flying, in an old western. Clop clop clop clop. It’s sound and picture and smell and dust and dirt and powerful horse, all in a background sound that fills the brain.

When I was little, I played tap dance. With patent leather shoes banging and making as much noise as I could on a linoleum floor. It was silly and noisy, clicking and knocking the heck out of those shoes and that cheap floor. I love. I love that sound too.

But tonight it’s a cold dark winter night, it’s late, and I’m half asleep. Tick tick tick. The slick, scraping sound of icy sleet hitting windows, brushing glass. Tick tick tick. I’m inside, and feeling protected. Safe, I suppose. Yet the sound calls, barely calls, beckoning me from a desperate, a desperately soft floating dreamy winter numbness. Tick tick tick, calling me out from some sad sense of empty waiting. Tick tick tick. Out there in the dark. Tapping at the window. Tapping at the subconscious. It taps me on the shoulder. “Wake up. Listen, girl, listen. Yeah, girl, you. You hear that? Wake up, girl.” I get up and look, I guess hoping to see something in the darkness besides sleet hitting the glass. Out there where you know there’s nothing but dark and cold. What did I hope to see? I think something to make me look, to rouse, to look up and smile. Yeah, something to shake the numbness, to make me look up, and about, and smile.

nature, sounds, winter

january (sounds)

January doesn’t exactly call to you. It’s easy to zone out in the numbness of these dull, dreary days. And sometimes the look of January isn’t enough even to make me look up. But the sounds out there, they still work.

There’s no one else around mid-afternoon, and it’s quiet. I try to convince myself it’s peaceful, but the mood is more like melancholy. Trees and what’s left of plants look like they’re scarcely holding on. It’s a still cold quiet void. Quiet and gray. My spirit too.

Yet, if you hang around the quiet long enough, there’s more than silence.

A subtle rippling, just audible. Water moving over stones and around bends. Slow enough to make singular tones. Soothing. Like listening from another room, while someone strums a guitar. Slowly picking the strings, one string at at time.

That kind of soothing.

Then the cheeps. Tiny cheeps. I’m partial to towhees, and they never let me down. Winter, summer, doesn’t matter. They’re around, and they’re gonna cheep. But other birds too. The cardinals, for sure. Their winter tones are sweet. Comfortable, less commanding, less stressed, almost purposeless. Not the loud complicated spring show-off mating songs or the summer alarms and calls. It’s soft and gentle. As if they’re going about life, hunting the brush for a meal or snack, and mindlessly humming.

There’s been too much gray. Too much cloudy. I’d rather have snow. But we get comfort where we can. And January brings a quiet comfort. If nothing else, it brings quiet. Quiet intersecting lonely intersecting reassurance. A kind of hushed reassurance.

music, nature, plants, sounds

evening

It looks like these trees and this brush are endless. Sometimes I feel that way too. But they’re not.

I was hunched over, trying to get a picture of the flowers and the green and a bit of the sunlight still coming through. It was getting close to eight, and there was a towhee doing what towhees always do at sundown. It was ‘drink your tea’ time. They sing those notes over and over, part of the evening ritual.

But this time there was music too. Human type music. Past all the green, up a hill, there was a house and the glow of flames in a fire pit, and somebody was out back. None of my business, but how could I not notice? He was playing folksy music, and it sounded so good I wanted to yell, “Hey, what’s that you’re playing?” Of course I didn’t. I thought it was somebody sitting by the firepit playing a guitar or banjo, and singing one of those folk songs that feel like springtime, and good times, and flowers in a field. Eventually I realized the music was too good, it must have been a recording.

I didn’t want to move on, but I started walking slowly along the path, around a bend, and the music playing behind me faded in the distance, past the trees.

Photographed May 29, 2020

bamboo, nature, percussion, sounds

clack, clack-le

It’s haunting.
You barely hear it, a rattle, or a whistle.
Some sort of earthy percussion.
Random, humble, rhythm-less repetitions.

clack, clack, clack, clack-le
clack-le, clack, clack, clack-le
clack, clack-le, clack, clack-le
clack-le, clack-le, clack-le
Bamboo stalks look so calm and graceful,
but when they bend and bounce in the breeze, they produce a strange sound.
The tones come from the top of the plant, almost from the wind itself,
and to me feel unexpected and jarring.