Write about a sound. Maybe you woke up from a sound. Maybe it is a sound of music, or an annoying noise.
Since I started writing about the sand and living on the beach in the last sketch, it brought back the memories of the sounds that I had never experienced before on a day to day basis… I often think that even though we now live on the hill by the road, our house still is surprisingly quiet most of the time. You can hear the cars passing, but mostly just one or two, with breaks before the next one appears. During those breaks, what we hear is the sound of the wind chime that I traded with my festival neighbor for a couple of beautifully carved birch bark boxes during my trading years. That chunky chime, made of wood, metal tubes and a big slice of a natural stone, has provided us with a beautiful sound for years, hanging outside of every home we lived in. We also hear birds, mostly seagulls, crows and blue jays. The rest of it is… the sound of silence.
The sound of silence was something that the tiny rugged beach house performed with perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place where the silence was the major sound I heard. I never even thought that silence has a sound. But it does. When you hear it, you understand – this is the sound of silence. How to put it into words? I’m afraid my language is too poor to describe the magnificence of the sound of silence. And yet, it is very simple really. Living on the beach, we were on the very bottom of a steep 200 foot hill, and there was no road to get there, only a small woodsy trail partly with wooden or concrete steps. So there was never a sound of a car or truck which surround you not only in a city, but in the quietest of neighborhoods and villages in America. (It used to be that far away Russian villages were practically free of the car noise, but I know that it’s rapidly changing there too.) And that is a huge part of it – simply the lack of the mechanical noise, for the vast majority of time. We lived in a secluded little neighborhood with only a dozen or so little houses spread apart, so there was not very much human noise either – rarely someone passed by our house, and if they were with a walking buddy, then you’d hear the excerpts of their conversation very clearly, word for word. Army planes would fly above the beach from time to time, filling the sky with the thunder-like sound, though still distant, not at all as close and deafening as the naval jets learning how to land above the glorious Deception Pass north of Seattle. There would be some boats and huge ships from the nearby Port of Tacoma that passed by our windows, and we’d hear them. But other than those rather interesting and not trivial occurrences, all we heard was the sounds of nature. Seagulls and crows getting all excited about the bald eagle getting out to fish – that was probably the most common sound that we heard daily. And our wind chimes on a rare blustery day (as we’re having today, as I write this, and the wind chime goes nuts in the garden). And that was it. That is the sound of silence to me. The rarest and the most precious sound that I know.