Monday, May 21, 2012

What procrastination gave me

The word for my weekend should be “procrastination.” That would explain, perhaps, why I waited until a gloomy and rainy Monday morning to take a photo for today’s Roundtop Ruminations. The weather this weekend was glorious, and I did look for something to strike my eye. Perhaps it was just that perfect, crystal clear light.  Perhaps that glorious lighting was simply too harsh, but for some reason, nothing struck my eye.
If I am truthful, I can say that it wasn’t just photography that suffered this weekend. The ironing didn’t get done either, and my baking plans never materialized. Procrastination was the word, or perhaps simple laziness, though procrastination sounds less harsh than laziness. I suppose one word is as good as the other, because for whatever reason, this weekend it didn’t get done.

All of which explains why I was standing in the rain this morning with my camera in hand. So there I was, looking for flowers that weren’t yet in bloom, or a fern I hadn’t yet photographed. Moths and butterflies were all hiding from the drops.

This morning sound struck me more than anything visual. The sound of rain on a million or a billion leaves (I’ve never tried to count). The sound of a breeze through the leaves, competing with the sound of the rain falling on the leaves. Where did one end and the other begin? It was hard to tell. The rattling breeze sounded very like rain dropping onto the leaves. And both traveled through the forest.

Sometimes I could hear it coming, sound rolling up the mountain, growing louder and louder until the breeze or the rain reached my shoulders. Or not. Sometimes the breeze traveled to one side of me. Sometimes the rain fell on this tree and not that one.

When I can hear it like that, either the rain or the breeze, it’s almost like seeing it. The route is traced by the sound of it on the leaves. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not an even sheet of rain or breeze that gobbles up everything in its wake. It’s this tree, not that one, a thin path through this part of the forest, but not over there.

The sounds move through the forest. One tree sways in the breeze, while its neighbor is untouched. I can hear how the rain moves through the forest, up the hill, the sound growing louder as it nears where I stand. Sometimes it’s not a sight that moves me but the sounds.


Elora said...

Makes perfect sense, Carolyn!

Thanks for these lovely descriptions!


Scott said...

Isn't it magical how sometimes a tree will be swaying in the breeze and its neighbor is motionless?

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I saw a short clip on "CBS This Morning" about the sound of silence. The correspondent (who looked like he should still be in high school--boy, am I getting old) was searching for silence. He visited a specific location in the Hoh rain forest in Olympic National Park, an isolated location that the correspondent's guide said was the quietest place in the United States. What he actually meant was that it was free of human-generated sounds, because the forest was alive with natural sounds (which the guide acknowledged).

The quietest place I have ever been in my life was Arches National Park. I remember hiking a trail in Arches, and then letting my two companions move a few hundred yards ahead of me--out of earshot. I just stopped and stood there and heard absolutely nothing. The air was still, no birds or insects made sounds, and the vegetation didn't rustle. It was perfectly silent. The only thing I actually did hear was the blood pulsing through my ears. Strange and wonderful.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: i've been to the Hoh rainforest--totally cool spot--but it never occurred to me it was the "quietest place in the U.S." That sounds a bit like hype to me.

The quietest place I've ever been was on the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska, up near Chilkoot Pass, in a stretch of trail where there's nothing but rocks. So there are no birds or animals and that is so quiet the silence seems impossibly deep. Even when a rock once rolled down the mountain, it somehow didn't seem to break that kind of silence.

Carolyn H said...

Elora: Thanks!

robin andrea said...

A wonderful description of the sound. You know you live in a quiet place when you can hear nature move through the trees, and nothing else.