Silence (the sound of)
Years ago I read an article in the Utne Reader, called In Search of Silence, about Gordon Hempton who created One Square Inch, a project dedicated to identifying and preserving places in the Hoh Rainforest of Olympic National Park in Washington State, one of the few places still where you can sit for 15 minutes and not hear one man-made sound. Hempton’s recorded the sounds in the spaces that he’s identified — he won an Emmy for that and has done soundtracks for movies, computer games, even PBS — and protects those areas as if they were his children. He’s also marked the places with a small red stone so others can identify them and go there to listen to the silence, a skill, he says, that humans are losing.
Until you’re in the deep woods, it’s almost impossible to find a place with no man-made sounds. Anywhere there are people there are cars, trains, buses, generators, transformers, cell towers, cell phones, human voices, refrigerators, and so on. To illustrate, you can easily hear the roar of the surf when you’re at the beach, or the scream of a motorcycle accelerating down the highway, but when was the last time you heard a leaf falling? These are the sounds that we are in danger of losing, having been drowned out by we noisy humans who tromp around without a care and who can barely hear each other, let alone nature, over the din of activities of daily living.
There are safe levels of noise for the public, we just don’t pay much attention to that. In addition to causing noise pollution, too much man-made sound increases stress levels in both humans and animals and can lead to obesity and heart disease among other things.
Want to learn more about noise pollution and the effects on our hearing. Check out the always informative blog, Silent City, created by my friend, Gina Briggs. And no, chocolate does not prevent hearing loss, but I’m sure we’d all have been much happier if it did.
Next time you’re out in the woods, or even your own backyard, stop and listen to the many sounds of nature. You’d be surprised by the thrum of life that exists just under the surface of all that other noise.
Today is Day 19 of the #AtoZ Blog Challenge. It’s so quiet, I can hear a pin drop.
AND — Happy Earth Day! Show your mama how much you love her. Shut off that noisy car engine of yours and take a walk instead — without ear buds — and just listen to the wind and the birds in the trees. Your ears will also thank you.