A little earlier, from a vantage point in the front yard I sat doing nothing but concentrating on the mix of small sounds that make up what anyone would describe as perfect quiet. There is never outdoors the sort of dead silence that occurs inside behind thick walls and doors, for that is an artificial quiet arranged for a purpose. Each day for the past two weeks I have sat in the backyard of this Oak Hill house and marveled at the quiet, but at the same time hearing a million insects, limbs full of birds, the tap dance of a squirrel on the tin roof and the occasional thunk of small limbs falling from a height. And when for a beat of fleeting seconds there are no birds in the trees, no screaming locusts or buzzing hornets, the pause is filled with the lift of wind shifting leaves, a rustle of green bending and murmuring in the thickness of arching branches.
The drone of a plane far overhead, invisible through the network of branches and a small sound by all accounts sets the woodpecker to knocking and unsettles a basking lizard that suddenly jumps, scurrying across a bed of dried leaves setting loose a crackling rustle at ground level. I try to imagine how long it will be before this complex outdoor symphony comes to me with fuller understanding of all its instruments and players. From over by the picnic table a bird sings, but I know nothing more than ‘bird.’ There is some impatience now with my inexperienced ear, the inability to identify sounds in a way that gives more shape to the surroundings. I think maybe I want too much too soon. In the passing of a month or two these conversations in the grass and treetops will perhaps have a fuller meaning to city ears.