One of the things I like best about living in the woods is how quiet it is here. Often, I grow so used to the quiet that the noise of a town, let alone that of a city, seems loud and intrusive to me when I’m in one. But just because it’s quiet living in the woods doesn’t mean that it is silent or even that all the noises I hear are natural ones.
Here’s what I can hear at the moment, before work on this early September morning:
The call of a distant great horned owl.
The twittering of a flying goldfinch or two.
The whine of a distant siren, probably somewhere over in the next township
The Canada geese fussing about something over on the new pond, about a quarter mile away.
A barking dog to the west of the cabin—the nearest I know of, and the nearest house, is about half a mile away.
The sound of a car out on the road, almost half a mile away.
The sound of an airplane. This is a sound that I am rarely far away from. Even when the woods are silent, the airplanes aren’t. Although I am about 15 air miles from the nearest and not large airport, planes overhead and planes on approach create a lot of background noise. During the days after 9/11, when the planes were still grounded, I was astonished just how much noise they added to my sounds because the absence of them was so noticeable.
A crow some distance away.
It’s not that there are no sounds to hear in the woods, it’s that I can hear more sounds that are further away because there’s fewer sounds nearby to overpower the more distant noises. Imagine trying to hear geese a quarter mile away when you’re in the city. There, you’d be lucky to hear a sound from the next street over.
Even here, with little but forest around me and the nearest road almost half a mile away from my front steps, about half of the sounds I could hear in the space of five minutes were manmade ones.