Main Entry: qui·et
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.