There are many unseen things in this world that we are only aware of because we hear them.
When I refer to silence, I refer to the lack of human speech – no people, no television, no songs or music. I even prefer nothing human made – no cars, no air conditioners, no humming lights or tapping keyboards.
Natural silence: the moment when human kind is filtered out and only the wild seeps in.
At first, you hear the birds. They are the loudest of nature’s creatures in your typical setting. Dozens of species hide securely in the trees and shrubs, calling to each other across the open air. You might catch a glimpse of a robin or a grackle, but so many other birds remain elusive. Woodpeckers ratatat on tree branches. Bluebirds pummel hard shelled beetles against rocks.
A rustle in the branches might reveal a larger, silent woodland creature. While I waiting in stillness, the deer will go about their business without fear unless they catch wind of you. Did you know deer make a sound like a sneeze when they warn you to get away? I’ve heard it. I obeyed and let them leave without interference.
The wind itself makes no sound until it acts upon the objects impeding its path. The trees clap a susurrus of applause with their leaves. Dry grass rattles like shakers in the hands of a well-trained percussionist. The rims of our own ears might create a low whistle as the wind blows over our cheeks.
The subtlest bending of grass blades might reveal a reptile in hiding, a small blue-tailed skink or a slithering garter snake. This sound goes unnoticed when even the slightest whisper of human noise drowns it out.
Then there are the creatures that make no noise at all, and it takes a moment of stillness to notice they co-exist in the nearby spaces. Owls perch on tree limbs, camoflaged and observing you from above. A green heron may sail in over the pond without so much as a whisper and perch on a waterlogged tree.
The silence allows me to recharge. Moments without noisy interruption permit the muscle in my jaw and back to relax. I can control my breathing to slow my heart rate and release stress. Silent moments are precious and unfortunately few and far between. The human world insists upon reasserting itself, pressing in from all sides, overtaking the silence and squashing it.