Stop / Listen

We’ve been away at Mum’s for the long weekend. I stood in the centre of the veggie patch at dusk last night. At first, I thought I could hear a car in the distance, then I realised it was just the wind. As far as my ears could reach, I could only hear the wind moving through the air.

I craned my head in every direction. Towards the great, rolling farm valley in front of me. Towards the pine line along the fence to the right of me. Towards the road and the house to the left of me. Towards the top paddock and the hill behind me.

I never knew the sound of the wind, until it was the only thing I could hear. Stripped of suburban noises, the oceanic waves of the breeze filled my ears; thick, heavy and loud. I could hear the direction the wind was coming from. I could hear it roll over the top of the hill and cascade down, down, down towards the bottom of the valley. I could hear it move through individual trees, the different timbre of each individual leaf.

Then, as I stood and opened my eyes to the wide sky and my ears to the cascading valley, I could hear other things. Frogs, birds (a million birds), twigs crackling, cows, grass moving, insects humming. Tiny, miniature sounds.

In the suburbs I hear the buzzing of the lights, the cars, the buses, the planes, other humans (a trillion humans), footsteps, yelling, talking, showers, electricity, doors closing, doors opening, emails pinging, phones ringing.

Underneath it all is a cacophony of natural noises, drowned out by our oblivious racket.

Tonight I stood on my back deck. Craning my head in every direction. Towards the backyard in front of me and below me. Towards my neighbours to the right of me. Towards my neighbours to the left of me. Towards the road and the house behind me.

I lifted up the sounds of the cars, of my neighbours settling down, of televisions and voices, of that vague humming that seems to be found in congested human places. Underneath it all I started to hear the birds (plenty of birds), the evening insects, creatures exploring my compost in the garden, flowers going to sleep, ducks down by the creek, and the wind softly moving through the leaves.

Stop. Listen.