We crash and bash about as a species…we systematically disturb things. In a city, we primarily disturb each other. When visiting nature, we disturb other Beings. We are a noisy species, filling up the air space with the timbre of our voices, the clanking of our “stuff”, the movements of our limbs and clothes, the sound of our footfall, the slamming of car doors, our radio waves, satellite connections, the electrical whine along high tensile wires… you name it. We ride a wave of disturbance that crashes before our feet in much of our daily activities.
I entered a natural landscape this past week with a plan to spend quite a few days with a friend out under the stars. After parking my car, I busied myself in setting up a simple camp. The location I chose is a quiet one, but what I noticed right away was the complete absence of bird song. Zip, nothing. No sounds of the mountain chickadee, no chirps or peeps of a brown creeper or nuthatch. No robins or even a jay bird. The forest was eerily silent. The only visible company was a pair of crows that winged their way low through the pine trees.
The silence disturbed me at first, especially since my camp was located near water with a smorgasbord of insects present for easy pickings by any bird species. I settled into walking the creek banks for hours, watching the waters for potential trout habitat. Walking slowly and carefully so as not to further disturb the butterflies, snakes and other critters who lived in or near the stream banks. And the forest remained silent.
It took 24 hours for a lone male robin to sound in this territory. He circled our area of encampment, voicing his simple call every few minutes. He did not receive an answering call…. My friend Lynne and I hunkered down in our chairs, sharing soft conversation for a while. We spent time looking at plants, taking pictures, drawing or painting. Our conversation diminished into Silence… we bent our heads and closed our eyes to merely Listen to the sounds of the Place surrounding us. The churning waters of the creek, the rise and fall of the wind through the pine and fir stands… We fell into a deep period of Silence for many unbroken hours. We would speak to one another only if something new was heard, to validate if the other heard it too…
It took three (3) days, 72 hours of silence and quiet movements to entice any of the local animal residents to return for a visit. A doe and her newborn fawn clambered down an adjacent hill, running from some form of threat, to cross the stone creek bed into safety. Their hoofs struck the rocks with a resounding sound that fractured the early dawn hour. When sipping our coffee, we were visited by a brown creeper trilling it’s song from the top of a lone pine, and an all-female foursome of Common mergansers settling in the creek. We considered these visitations a gift from Mother. They came to us only after we dissolved our”selves” into the backdrop of the natural landscape through Silence.
We are a species who is full of our own noise and we move too quickly. No wonder so many of us feel “disconnected” to nature and the World around us. We are so full of our own noise and busy-ness that we are unable to see, hear, or be approached by all the Life that surrounds us…… Namaste.