Monday, November 29, 2010

Silence Is Golden Yellow

In a quiet world, the goldfinch sings. (Click picture to enlarge) Posted by Picasa

"In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence." ~ Robert Lynd
Have you ever been bombarded with sound from every direction.. phones ringing, the television going non-stop for hours, kitchen appliances whirring, even the sound of people talking? And have you noticed how many different warning beeps and buzzes there are in your house that constantly go off..... the refrigerator door is open too long, there is an error in the auto-program of the microwave, the oven has reached baking temperature, the washing machine has finished the cycle, someone has opened an outside door to the house, the coffee maker has finished brewing, the oven timer has one minute left in the baking time, the George Forman grill is at grilling temperature, the dishwasher is finished the cycle, someone has shut an outside door to the house, the microwave has finished heating your cup of coffee and wants you to take it out RIGHT NOW, the dryer has finished its cycle, the oven baking time is finished and that one slightly weak high pitched beeping sort of buzz that you look all over the place to find and never do... what IS that buzz? How on earth did we ever survive even a day before all these warning systems..... oh, yes.. microwaves didn't exist, we set separate mechanical timers for ovens that rang like bells, no one cared about the clothes washer and dryer times and simply listened for them to stop, coffee pots percolated and didn't drip-drop-steam-foam-or grind and no one really knew what the temperature of a fridge was without putting an actual thermometer in there... and I mean a real mercury thermometer.. not one of these digital things as they didn't exist either. We are not talking about the ear splitting, inner ear damaging noise of a rock concert... although they apparently had one on Saturday night at the high school football field that is about a mile and a half from our house as the crow flies and I could feel the thumping of the drums and hear the wailing of the voices inside the house... with the doors and windows shut tight. I can imagine what it must have been like in person, but this is not the noise of which I speak. This noise is simply the underlying current of sound that presses on us from every direction and for such endless periods of time that we tend to tune it out.....UNTIL IT STOPS. And when it does stop.... the residual hums and rings in your ears for minutes, perhaps hours.. in fact, it takes quite a while for you to realize that it is silent.

Is it mixing sensory perceptions to say that this bird in this setting "looks silent"? To me it does. It wasn't silent when I took the picture. I was in the sunroom and the fan was circulating and the air was running and the dog was sniffing all over the floor in hopes of finding a morsel of food. Outside, it was summer and the background noise of children laughing down the street, crickets chirping, lawn mowers running and even the wind blowing the wind chimes filled the air. But, the picture still "looks silent". If it were not for the green foliage of the sunflowers and the summer yellow mating color of the male goldfinch I would say this looked like a bird in winter and in my experience, the deepest silence comes at night... in the country... in winter with a blanket of white snow covering the ground. No one is moving or crunching in the snow. There is no wind. There is only sky and stars and the moon and the snow. All other silence seems relative.

(end of post)


Ginny Hartzler said...

It took me the longest time to actually fix my eyes on this bird. I guess silence can do that to you. I don't think any of us realize how little silence there is anymore.

kenju said...

I crave absolute silence and I will never have it again. Tinnitus has made that impossible.
After reading your list of sounds, the dings from the computers when email comes in or the voice that tells me the virus protection has been updated came to mind. That sure adds to the cacophony!

kim, usa said...

I am lucky I live in what we call country side. Though cars passed all the time but couldn't hardly hear them because we are a bit far from the road. Back in my native country Philippines I am used noise and I don't know the difference then. Until I came here in the US and live in the country side. Thanks for the post makes me think how we all need silence in our mind. Happy Monday!
MYM-Array of food

angie said...

looks like lots of great fun

Pearl said...

Goldfinch? Quiet is a treasure. It allows the vibration of self to not get jostled. 

sandra said...

i noticed total silence a few weeks ago and the power was down for 4 hours. i mean really loud silence. you are so right, it is the white noise that we don't even here until it is gone. we used to sit on the porch and enjoy no sounds but the birds singing and the breeze in the trees, now outside our house is so much noise we can almost not hear the birds. this photo is really nice, I like it a lot,

Rambling Woods said...

I really miss the sounds of the insects sounds so dead...but not as much as when we have all the snow...but at least my feeder birds will be heard through my birding microphone.....Michelle