A little while ago I was outside listening to the wind.
That was the only sound. Even the birds, whose chirps and chatters are ordinarily omnipresent, had gone in for their afternoon siestas. Only the wind spoke, rustling through grasses and the bare limbs of mesquite, tickling the corrugated steel of the barn, humming between the power lines overhead.
To someone from crowded places, the remarkable thing is that there was no sound made by man. Sounds caused by the wind interacting with man-made objects, yes. But no cars, no airplanes, no radios or TVs or doors closing or people speaking.
On days when the wind doesn’t blow, it’s possible to be out in utter stillness. Those are some of my favorite times. Nothing moves. Nothing demands attention, and as a result everything does, a stalk of wild grass taking on as much import as a deadline or a political spat or any of those other human concepts. Then a buzzard will soar overhead or a yellow butterfly will take wing and the mind, once again, focuses on motion, on change, on the passage of time from then to now to then, rather than on what is. In the stillness, it’s all is, all now.
A couple of days ago, Maryelizabeth and I were at our respective desks when a sonic boom literally shook the whole house. There’s a window between us, and it rattled in its frame as if it was going to break. We went outside and couldn’t even see the jet, it had moved on so fast, although we could hear it for minutes and minutes afterward.
This is the second time in a couple of months we’ve had that unpleasant shock. It sounds and feels like a truck has hit the house—quite possibly, a truck dropped from an airplane. I was twice, in my city days, awakened by cars slamming into various parts of the house, so I am familiar with the sensation.
We lived here for five years without ever experiencing this. Now it’s twice, in two months. I’m hoping we aren’t on some new flight path.
I greatly prefer the stillness.