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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quiet

Main Entry: qui·et
Pronunciation: \ˈkwī-ət\
Function: adjective

1 a: marked by little or no motion or activity : calm b: gentle, easygoing c: not interfered with d: enjoyed in peace and relaxation
2 a: free from noise or uproar : still b: unobtrusive, conservative

My home growing up was in the country. It was very possible to sit outside and only hear the sounds of nature for long periods of time without interruption. An occasional truck ambling up the gravel road drowned out the mooing of the cows in the field behind our house. A neighbor's tractor moving bales of hay for their horses sometimes silenced a hooting owl. I always knew it was noon when the siren sounded at the fire station in the valley but other than those few intrusions, I was alone with the quiet voices of nature.

Currently, I live just barely inside the limits of a fairly major city. It's your typical suburban neighborhood with cookie cutter two-story homes sandwiched too near each other on a quarter acre of land each. And as I take advantage of the momentary reprieve from heat and humidity to write from my screened porch, I think how different my idea of "quiet" has become over the years.

We're just off a street that carries a substantial amount of traffic. Train tracks run nearby, bringing along the chugging of the engine and the blasting of the whistle at each crossing. Just a bit further, perhaps two miles from where I'm reposed, a major interstate provides a constant dull roar of background noise. A bit farther in the distance, I can hear the beeping of construction equipment erecting new apartments that will add even more traffic to the already busy route.

And yet, I also hear birds chirping. The wind tickles the leaves of the trees in the backyard and a squirrel scampers along the fence, his tiny feet clicking along. Between the passing vehicles, there is still quiet. Nature is still out there; she's just sharing her space with a few more inhabitants.

17 comments:

Hit 40 said...

I grew up in the middle of a large section of woods. The sound of the frogs and crickets at night was definitely NOT quiet.

Sunshinemeg said...

I come from a small town in rural Tennessee and I miss that quiet sound. I live near Baltimore now and it is very different to say the least.

TMC said...

Sounds just like my neighbourhood with the highway and the train in the distance, but the birds are close and happily noisy. :)

Accidentally Me said...

I grew up in the inner city, and live in another one now...and quiet has always been kind of weird for me. If I have none of the background noise of a city, I can get a little anxious...

I do love a day or two away from civilization, but that is about my limit!

Grand Pooba said...

I don't know if I could handle pure silence, it seems kinda lonely!

Meg said...

I think you write poetically, and express yourself very well. Did you ever think of writing a book?

Debbi said...

I grew up country, too. Well, kinda. Kinda a bit of both (we moved often).

But I was raised on cows' milk, FRESH. I played in grass for hours. We chopped our OWN Christmas tree, and not from a tree farm!

I am happy that Will and I will be heading somewhere middle ground again-- not too far from the farm, but there's still a Walmart close enough!

Comedy Goddess said...

Our tiny animal cousins are so great to stick it out with us giving us some opportunities to hear their world more clearly than our mechanically overrun world. God bless their furry little hearts!!

tabithablogs said...

beautiful. :)

Moxie said...

My neighborhood is pretty populated, but usually pretty quiet. The only time it's not quiet is when someone has the bass on super loud (which I hate) and/or when someone comes speeding by my house. The children at the bus stop in the morning don't even bother me. Oh wait, that's because I'm already at school. Duh.

a corgi said...

very well written, Cate; I enjoyed reading this. And as I read it, I listened to what I heard outside my sliding glass door, birds chirping, kids playing in the houses below us. Relatively peaceful for the moment, but its trash day and any minute a trash truck will descend on this neighborhood disturbing my peace and quiet (Koda hates trash trucks, barks at them all the time when he sees/hears them)

again, very nicely done!

betty

mo.stoneskin said...

Clickety click click. Nothing beats the sound of a scampering squirrel. Apart from the pop of a cork perhaps, or the clink of a bottle being opened. But why not have both?

Guttermouth said...

I totally understand that. I frew up in the ultra-urban Orange County, California and still one of my favorite memories was sitting outside at night and listening to the crickets.

It's much more "nature-friendly" in the south where I am now so there is a difference... but you're right, it's definitely still there!

blognut said...

Isn't it amazing that those city background noises almost go unnoticed until you sit quietly and listen for them?

Eric said...

Quiet is one big reason I heart Venice Italy. No cars, no motorcycles, no bicyles, just quiet.

Princess Andy said...

i didn't grow up in a family that favoured the outdoors.

it is only a recent discovery of mine the beauty that is the peace and quiet of nature.

it certainly doesn't surprise me that my anxiety is lessened when we're out in the woods.

i could totally picture your story...it sounds beautiful. wish i was there right now!

andy

C. Beth said...

This is a beautiful post, Cate.