Extinction of Natural Silence (Revisited) . . .

(Since my health still has me pretty much out of commission, here is another post I wrote when I first started blogging and had very few readers and no commenters.  This one is from April or 2009.  It did not create a conversation the first time I posted it, but maybe it will now.)

sunsetNatural Silence.
The quiet of nature undisturbed by human made noise, that is what natural silence is. It is a meadow with only the sounds of grasshoppers, bees, a gentle wind blowing the grasses and flowers, and maybe the whirling sound of wings from a small flock of geese flying overhead. It is a lake with only the sounds of waves gently splashing the shore, a fish jumping, and loons singing. It is a forest with only the sounds of squirrels chattering, a woodpecker drumming, leaves rustling, bugs buzzing and a startled deer jumping.

Have you noticed that finding a natural place without human made noise is almost impossible these days? Even here in my northern Minnesota woods, there is an abundance of human disturbances. I think it is safe to say that natural silence is on the verge of extinction and we need to save what is left.

The topic of silence came to my mind after hearing a public radio program, Living on Earth. The subject of the program this week was One Square Inch of Silence. One Square Inch started as one man’s search, Gordon Hempton, for natural silence in a noisy world. Gordon is an acoustic ecologist and Emmy Award-winning sound recordist who just wrote a book about his coast-to-coast mission to preserve and protect natural soundscapes. According to Gordon Hempton, “The extinction rate for quiet places vastly exceeds the rate of species extinction.” Gordon’s analysis led him to designate Olympic Park as the quietest place in the United States. One Square Inch of Silence is now a research project to help preserve the quietness of this place (a sanctuary of silence).

Any city dweller visiting me here in the woods, would probably feel that I have a sanctuary of silence, also. Winters in the woods are a time of extra quiet. Most of the song birds are gone for the winter, animals are hybernating, no croaking frogs or crickets, no rustling leaves and the snow acts like a sound insulator, too. Spring brings the gentle sounds of running water, animal’s staking out territories, bugs buzzing, the song birds return and the loons .. I love the loons!

However, Spring also brings a ton of human created NOISE .. that I am probably more sensitive to then my visiting city dwellers. The motor boats, jet skis, atv’s, construction equipment, open car windows with music blaring, and dirt bikes (the worst of all in my opinion) invade with the warming weather. These are the noises that make me cringe … Spring brings everything and everyone back to life … but, all that human life kills the natural silence … drop a rock in a lake, the water ripples reflect how one disturbance of peace spreads. The man-made sounds travel great distances in waves allowing one engine to disturb the natural silence of a huge area.

Natural silence, describes a big part of my life. Silence of nature grounds me and keeps me sane. I enjoy the quiet of my woods … the natural silence is a comfort to me. I understand some people’s apprehension of silence .. Ordinary, man-created silence can be a lonely and scary place … Silence forces us to listen to our inner self and maybe visit some aspects of ourselves that are not so good. However, natural silence lets us visit those same places … but when you do, it feels like you are visiting them with a friend.

As I was reading more about silence this week, I found an interesting website .. Pure Silence, nothing earth shattering, just a site containing a mystery man’s ideas and opinions on silence and life. If nothing else, it may cause you to think or even be encouraged to do some exploring of your own in the world of natural silence.

Can there ever be too much silence in your life?
… YES! if you are talking about unnatural silence, the dead, man-made quiet.
… NO! if you are talking about natural silence.

… Natural Silence Heals.

~ by bearyweather on August 29, 2011.

4 Responses to “Extinction of Natural Silence (Revisited) . . .”

  1. I find your idea of re-posting old blogs very intriguing, bearyweather. Good idea! It is interesting how very quiet and still it can be in the woods in the winter (except maybe for the distant hum of logging trucks or chainsaws) but in the spring it becomes much more noisy. Right now at mid-day in the woods I can only hear the wind and some bird songs. That feels good. I agree with you–silence heals. Wishing you much silence in the upcoming weeks.

    • I am glad you like my idea because I really am too sick. I don’t have a computer in hospital
      . They are old, but new to almost everyone because they were my first and few read them.

  2. I’m Very sorry to hear that you are sick, bearyweather. Get better soon!

    This is a good essay, and thanks for the link to Pure Silence.

    I agree with you on silence- more of it may cause some people to reflect upon themselves and their surroundings more, which would be good. I hike around parks a lot, and there are some people on the paths who talk very loud (into cell phones even) or yell and carry on as if they were in the city, which irritates me. There should be certain experiences that you should adapt to, instead of the world adapting to your whims all of the time. I think that is called ‘maturity’.

    • I think people in this crazy, techie, multitasking world have forgotten how to deal with silence … maybe even fear it. Silence is good for us, it is healing. I hope the ability to live with silence is not lost.

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