At my castle in the woods above the lake, a whistling bird bids me good morning. She trills a 30-second solo from outside my open windows. Then, as if on cue, her peer-chorus chimes in.
Each bird lifts its own warble or twitter, its chirp or caw. I can’t say that they harmonize in a particular key, but their song is a tranquil alarm clock, a morning symphony.
As the sun inches higher, the birds lower their volume until their voices become part of the background music that underscores my day. Squirrels join the revelry. They scamper and twitter and bark. Fish rise from the water. They flip and shimmy and flop.
A door creaks open. Water streams from a tap. I hear the faint drip, drip, drip of the coffee pot.
Whirling tires hum as they roll along the road below, and an occasional truck bullies its roar into the melody. Canoe bottoms scrape till they find water. A distant lawnmower whirs over green blades of grass.
A saw buzzes. Voices murmur. Children giggle.
Feet pound the tip of a diving board. Splash. The day is up and underway.
I don’t do this enough—take time to enjoy the music that accompanies my life. I wake with purpose. I spend my seconds, minutes, and hours working to achieve goals. I listen, but do I hear?
Do I hear my fingers tap a keyboard or the murmur of the wind? Do I hear the boy begging for a bag of Skittles or the beep of the grocery scanner?
Do I hear the grandmother whisper “Pat-a-cake” to her granddaughter? Do I hear my husband, really hear him, when he talks about his day?
Sometimes I’m so consumed by the “to-do list” that I miss the ring of laughter between a shop clerk and a customer. I don’t beat with the rhythm of soles slapping the sidewalk as a jogger glides past. I’m oblivious to the mother’s tender voice reading to her toddler.
And then there are the day-sounds that escape the ears of no living thing, those “wake me up” hair-raising noises. A horn blaring in traffic. An agitated diner shrieking at a server. A muffler-less vehicle accelerating down a highway.
A baby’s high-pitched wail. The crash of shattered glass. Bangs and booms of fireworks. Blasts of thunder. Zaps called lightning. Hammering rain. Car alarms.
Big, unwelcome sounds often work their way into my daily symphony. And that’s OK, but if those thuds and clatters and smashes are all I hear, then my world is nothing but noise. It’s the kind of noise that makes my heart shiver, rather than sing.
But when I take time to pause and open my senses, I hear the subtle music, the soothing tones of life around me. Then, the blasts and crashes, the booms and zaps, join the melody. Like kettle drums, they rise and fall in crescendo.
The bird chorus wanes with the sunset as lightning bugs blink silent fireworks. Frogs croak. Crickets chirp. Their moonlight symphony bids me goodnight.
writer, blogger, columnist