I’m sometimes bothered by sensory overload, like when the entire church congregation gathers in the church basement for a meal, or when dozens of aunts, uncles and cousin you didn’t even remember come out of the woodwork for Christmas dinner.
All the combined conversation and commotion just makes me want to retreat into my shell to escape the din. So, on one particular morning a few years back as I sat on the front porch of my brother’s cabin in the woods, how could so many different sounds coming from all around me all at once seem so peaceful?
It started with the dripping of the morning dew from the trees onto the tin porch roof above me. In the silence of the early morning, each drop rang out and echoed around me like a rifle shot as it hit the tin. How could something so noisy seem so peaceful?
There was the squawking of two hummingbirds as they squabbled for feeding rights at the same feeder.
In the stillness of the morning, the piercing “hum” of their miniature wings was outdone only by their aggressive chattering as they jockeyed for position around a feeder that would easily have accommodated a dozen of their tiny bodies, not to mention the three other feeders just a stone’s throw away. How could something so noisy seem so peaceful?
It began to rain, and the sound of the steady rain drops in the treetops blanketed the whole valley in a sort of subdued, pleasant roar. The occasional staccato hammering of a woodpecker on a nearby dead snag provided percussion for the symphony.
As the morning shower subsided, I could again hear the gurgling of the stream below as it boiled through a notch in the old beaver dam, swirling and bubbling its way on to bigger waters somewhere. How could something so noisy seem so peaceful?
A chorus of different songbird voices added lyrics to the production. Some were pleasant and pleasing, altogether calm and soothing. Others were raucous and piercing, almost agitating. A couple wound their way back and forth through the same dancing melodies over and over again, like a random, auditory slide show.
They all knew their parts perfectly, coming together to create an outdoor opera rivaling any theatrical production. How could something so noisy seem so peaceful?
I love listening to owls, and that night as the sun disappeared, the symphony took on an entirely new sound as the owls added their parts to the production. The first to participate were a couple barred owls.
Their loud, staccato “who-cooks, who-cooks-for-you” cries broke the silence and echoed through the woods. Then a pair of great-horned “hoot” owls added their smooth, mournful moans to the mix.
Last to chime-in were two screech owls whose shrill, eerie wails added a sense of uneasiness to the darkness, making those tiniest of owls sound as though they were gigantic.
Many of us here in Kansas don’t fully understand what people elsewhere call “woods;” uninterrupted areas of trees that stretch for acres, sometimes miles, and are just there, not because of a river or a lake. Having grown up in Ohio, I believe I understand the concept of true “woods,” and Joe’s property and cabin set smack in the middle of several hundred acres of uninterrupted woods.
I love porches, and a wonderful raised porch full of rocking chairs spans the entire length of his cabin. It was from this porch that I was privileged to listen to the harmony of nature’s noise described above. Some would find all this noise deafening, but nature’s noise is different somehow.
My wife said it best when she observed “I have a feeling this is what Heaven will be like – one huge porch full of rocking chairs.” Yep, nature’s noise is just different somehow.
Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at email@example.com