For Liz and for petitpoussin.

Thursday. Coffee grinding, music playing, conversations to my left and right, keys clicking. Change being counted, newspaper unfolding, coffee grinding ceases, and rain. I could be anywhere.

How often do we stop and listen?

Wednesday night, awake with eyes closed, just before dawn. Rain, the chirping of the coqui, the rustle of sheets, and, in the morning, what is this, a rooster? Yes, a rooster, then later a siren, and more rain.

I first heard the term “soundscape” when I was in college. The concept is exactly what you are thinking – the sounds that form a place. Like a landscape, soundscapes start as compositions of the “natural” world and are layered with the auditory impacts of human presence. Your beautiful view of the beach is intruded upon both by the industry blurring the coastline and the really loud tourist that you somehow hope you are not becoming.

I have been visiting a friend in Hawaii for the last few days, so I am a bit behind on blogging. Last week the NY Times magazine ran a piece on the auditory loss of biodiversity and a man has devoted his life to recording so many “places” that we are in danger of never hearing again.

I read this piece on one of the three planes that it took to get me from the desert to the tropics, and the story stayed with me as I encountered places that were new to me, and yet reminiscent of other places, by not just sight, but sound. And not just sounds I had heard before, but sounds I had heard of, sounds I had expected to hear, and others that came as a surprise.

Saturday, the crunch of glass like rocks, beginning their slow path to soil, beneath three sets of hiking boots. Waves pounding against rocks. A helicopter. The hiss of lava falling into the ocean. Excited gasps and the click of cameras.

Friday. So many birds, waterfalls, more waves still – the Tropical Botanical Gardens. And then Karaoke with old and new friends.

Sunday night, we stop to look at the stars. A silence of sorts, my own exclamations, and the hum of the car’s motor. Sunday afternoon, snorkeling, hearing my own breathing, the movement of water, my muted “ohs” which vibrate through the tide pools as I float only feet away from a sea turtle, living reef, schools of fish.

A couple speaking in Spanish, a blender, a child’s footsteps running, keys clicking, classical music playing, loud announcements, planes landing, the beep of an EZ-Go, and the crunch of fast food filled paper bags opening and closing. Where am I now as I write this?

And tomorrow, what sounds does tomorrow bring?  What sounds now mean home?

Published in: on February 26, 2007 at 9:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. volcano glass shattering underneath your feet is definitely a sound which must be experienced. glad to have contributed to muffled snorkel noises!

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