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Friday, August 31, 2012

Seeking a Place of Quiet


I awake in the dark morning hours and know it would be some time before sleep will return. From my new position in the living room’s recliner, I become aware of the many different sounds in the supposedly still of the night. Makes me realize what a noisy world we live in. Is it possible to find a place of quiet anymore?

Our farmhouse is situated five miles from the nearest cluster of homes; yet even now, quiet eludes me. Most intruding is the steady hum and whine of passing vehicles on the major highway a few hundred feet away. Daytime traffic on this major road is a steady stream of cars and eighteen-wheelers all day long, but I had expected a cessation in these pre-dawn hours.

Most unwelcome is the intermittent crowing of a neighbor’s rooster. Surely his internal clock needs adjusting. Then I remember, the same annoying crows occurred when we raised chickens in years past. Eventually I drift into a light sleep only to be abruptly awakened by a sh-sh-hump sound. At first I consider the possibility of a raccoon or opossum jumping down from our cat’s feeding shelf installed just below the kitchen sink window. After a moment, I realize the sound comes from our newly-installed propane heater. Another sound needing to be incorporated into my consciousness.

In the distance, I hear the harsh wail of a train’s whistle. It must traverse three country-road crossings before it passes under the highway just shouting distance from our home. The roads are barely a pause between each warning signal of the train. I can gauge the train’s location by the increasing loudness of its whistle.

In the midst of all these man-made sounds, no bird songs could be heard. On some mornings, wrapped in a warm robe and with a fresh cup of coffee to warm my fingers, I settle in  the front porch swing which faces the eastern horizon. As the magic show of another sunrise happens--even before the sun has made an appearance--the birds will begin to sing. Its as if they perform an overture for the event. This morning, it’s still too early for that chorus of serenading.

With my move to the living room, I had anticipated a time of quiet, time to reflect and sort out thoughts. Instead, I keep being disturbed by a variety of sounds. Resigned, I accept that’s the price to be paid for sharing earth’s space with other human beings and creatures alike. Quiet is an elusive jewel to acquire.

I continue to seek a place of quiet in this busy world. Only recently has nature, with a little help—with help from us, its custodians—provided that sought-after place. Several years past, we planted a stand of pine seedlings a short distance from the house. Those trees have thrived and now tower taller than my husband’s two-story barn. Planted in rows, evenly spaced from one another, that small forest has become a meditation garden for me. I weave back and forth between the rows, a carpet of thick grass beneath my feet.

As I walk my thoughts vary, depending on what is happening in my life. But the trees act like a soft wall, enclosing me and keeping out the hustle and bustle of my surrounding world. In their midst, I find the quiet I seek. I end my thirty-minute or so walk with a clearer mind, recharged and ready to tackle whatever awaits my attention. I would wish for everyone the luxury of a place of quiet.   

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