Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Sounds Of Our Lives...

Mink Pond
Winslow Homer

When I first started working, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I used to get a ride to work with the executive assistant of the CEO of the company. Her name was Julie and at the time I thought she was much older and more sophisticated than I was, but in fact she was about 35. She was always impeccably dressed, and she wore leather driving gloves. One of the things I noticed as we drove along in the early morning was the sound of her gloves on the steering wheel. They made a sort of squeaky sound, and I remember thinking, "That is the sound of good leather." I have always loved good leather gloves and when I'm shopping for gloves, the most important thing is they have to "sound" good -- they have to sound like good leather.

I grew up in a small town, on the edge of the forest, and I loved the sound of frogs and crickets. Frogs were the sound of a spring evening, and crickets were the sound of late summer. I live in the city now, and I don't hear the frogs anymore, but on a summer evening I can go down to the Fraser River and still hear the crickets singing. Their sound envelopes me with a feeling of complete and absolute peace.

Boy in a Boat
Winslow Homer

Yesterday I was thinking about the various sounds we hear every day -- not the obvious ones like grand symphonies or our favorite rock band rocking the rafters, but the quiet, understated sounds that form the backgrounds of our lives. Here are some of my favorites, and each of these sounds can conjure up a strong feeling in me, and give me a sense of comfort.

Water lapping at the sides of a boat or a dock;

Seagulls in the distance;

A train whistle;

Crows during the months of July and August – they don’t caw, they chuckle;

Fire crackling;

The sound of clothes tumbling in a dryer;

Squeaky gate birds;

Children playing;

A single robin at dusk;

Ice in a lemonade pitcher on a hot afternoon;

There are too many more to mention, and I'm sure you have some favorites too. What are your favorite everyday sounds?


Rosaria Williams said...

Beautiful post! I never thought of the sound of good leather. You are quite the observer.

L. D. said...

Very nice post. The sounds of silence is really not silent at all as your really can keep hearing things in a quieter way.

Linda said...

My mother used to wear real leather gloves, and I always thought they were beautiful & soft. She had a red pair that I remember quite clearly.

I don't like the sounds of crickets, because they are usually in my house and not outside. I don't like the sounds of cats mating. I don't like the sound of the wind.

I love to hear a baby making their cooing sounds, and breathing when they are asleep.

We hear the trains going through our town during the night. They are soothing.

Canarybird said...

One sound I always loved as a child was that of my dad's electric razor in the bathroom in the mornings. It was followed by a whiff of aftershave as he came out the door. The sound was somehow a reassuring comfort that dad was there and was beginning to take care of the day as usual. I now love to hear it from my husband when he's getting ready in the morning. A sort of ... 'all is right in my world' feeling. And of course I love the sounds that you mention, along with that of the tiny bird I hear tweeting every morning outside my kitchen window when I get up and go to fill the kettle for coffee. :-) Sharon.


Wind in the trees.

My water fountain bubbling and rolling off the rocks.

The fan in the bedroom.

Kids playing in the distance.

Frogs at night.

Crickets at night.

The chopping sounds when I'm preparing food.

Sounds of my husband in the shower and hearing him cuss when he drops the soap.

Footsteps on the stairs.

Unwrapping gifts at Christmas.

Tossing coins into the fountain.

As to the gloves, I always wore driving gloves with my sport car so I could handle it more quickly.

I love the sounds and smell of good leather.

TomCat said...

Perhaps it would be best for me not to discuss the sounds of good chile. :-)

Single and Sane said...

My house backs up to a park, and in the evening and on weekends, I can often hear the sound of soccer games. Sometimes a different sound comes from the park - the sound of a Spanish radio station cranked up as loud as it will go. It was a little startling at first because I live pretty much right in the middle of the US, but I've come to love the sound of that music because it means summer is near.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Any sound in my natural state would fall on rather deaf ears - why? Because I have to wear hearing aids - although my hearing with aids is much better it is not perfect and I would miss the more subtle sounds of nature, alas, although I remember them from my youth - also when the dinasaurs roamed. I would easily detect the roar of a lion in the wild and of course Mrs Bluelights yelling, "Your tea's on the table, come downstairs and stop that blogging!" LOL

Yes the sound of silence is nice too, and of course all I have to do for that is to switch my aids off - ah! Bliss!

Anonymous said...

An outstanding piece of art, this entry of yours.
Spending a few days back home in Germany, makes the sound of birds greeting the early morning my favourite one - back in Greece it will surely be the voice of me son.
A wonderful Sunday for you all.

Amy said...

Jo, What a great post! Leather gloves are the best and good ones last forever it seems - I don't know what a "squeaky gate bird" is - could you enlighten?

On my walk yesterday I heard a toad for the first time this season.

...the kettle boiling signaling "time for tea" dog and cat's snoring. husband's truck driving up the driveway.

...hummingbirds - not just their wings but their little chirps.

...the Elliot's breathing especially when he's concentrating or scrunched up in my neck.

The Bug said...

Now that we live in a quiet neighborhood we can here SO many birds! They are quite rackety - we love it!

I also love the not quite snore of Dr. M letting me know that he's asleep.

We're drying clothes right now!

SparkleFarkel said...

What a lovely read this has been! One of my favorite sounds? A little chippermunky who comes back around every spring. He talks endlessly. LOL! I swear, one time, I actually saw him with his hands on his hips, jawing about something or other that I couldn't quite make out-- but I knew it was important. Very important. LOL!

P.S. "I grew up in a small town, on the edge of the forest...." I KNEW IT! You're Little Red Riding Hood, aren't you?! No wonder I feel like I've known you for years!

Elise said...

What a beautiful post... so true. The sound of things in the background can be so comforting! I wish trains still whistled here!

DJan said...

I always get a little thrill when I see you've made a new post, because they are always so nourishing. Some of my favorite sounds:
Smart Guy whistling under his breath
Chickadees' two-note romancing song
Robins' ecstatic morning songs
Far-off train whistle
Ocean waves
Children laughing

A human kind of human said...

As I sit here replying to your post, I am also listening to one of my own favourite sounds: Turtle doves welcoming the new day with the chirp of an early bird thrown in every now and again.

Pauline said...

a child's laughter, wind sighing in the pines, brook water chuckling to itself, my grandchildren's voices on the phone (and come to think of it, my children's voices, too), birdsong, the call of the nightjar, swan's wings beating, the first peepers in the spring, the drone of a distant plane, corn stalks rustling, the shoosh and slap of ocean waves on the beach, rain on the roof...

Lilly said...

Your new blog design looks great. this is a very beautiful post.

I like the sound of newspaper - the sound of pages turning (which is rather archaic these days), the sound of the sea, bagpipes, clocks ticking, bells ringing, oh there are so many and this is a wonderful exercise to think of the things in life we take for granted. Thanks for the reminder.

Russell said...

Sounds like the quality leather gloves is a hit! But, yes, the sounds of good leather is always soothing.

When my daughter rode horses I would always notice the sound of that leather as she got into the saddle. It has a nice sound to it.

Other sounds I like? A lot I guess. One of my favorites is the song of the Meadowlark.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

There are so many, including some of yours, but my present favorite it the owl who lives in a nearby tree and hoots day and night. He comforts me in ways I can't express. Seagulls shrieking make me laugh, and the sound of cicadas is musical. I miss the frog symphony in the brook that ran through our property in TN, and the purring of my late cat, Truffle.

PinkPanthress said...

I love this post... I always associate sound or smells with a nice memory, too.
Though I bet that some of them might sound weird. :D

Hair drier.
Vaccum cleaner.
Birds in the morning.
Sewing machine.
Slow & steady breathing sound made by someone asleep.
My neighbours' daughter next door learning the piano.

And so many more, but I took the best ones!

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

You always thrill me by leaving me such lovely comments. I have thought of you all day about how kind your comment was to me.
Thank you honey for writing such beautiful words to me. Never thought of my site that way so it makes me happy to think someone does.
I truly love reading your post and the way you have with words. What I would give to be able to write like you.
Hope your Sunday was peaceful and lovely like yourself

Paula Slade said...

Pinkletinks (very tiny New England frogs) on a spring evening.

The hum of hummingbirds as they swarm a feeder.

Water rushing over rocks.

Approaching thunder before a storm.

A crackling fire.

Being scolded by a squirrel.

The sound of a woodpecker hammering away for bugs.

The gentle call of a dove.

Belizegial said...

One of my favorite sounds is water being released from the shower head. It is a promise of refreshing times ahead.

Jo said...

Lakeviewer, yes, good leather has a sound. :-)

L.D., nothing is ever really silent, is it? But I do love silence.

Linda, yes, the sound of trains at night is wonderful, isn't it?

Sharon, it's funny you should mention it, because I loved the sound of my Dad's shaver in the morning too. It made me feel safe. Isn't that funny?

Diane, footsteps on the stairs! Yes! That is another one. And the sound of chopping. Gosh!

Tom, LOL...!!!

Single and Sane, (I love your new avatar), yes, the sounds of summer -- as long as they are in the distance. *heh*

Eddie, LOL...!!! And, yes, it would be unfortunate to be hard of hearing, but the good thing is you can tune the world out if you want to. :-)

Robert, it's amazing how birds are different from region to region, isn't it?

Amy, hummingbirds! Yes! You know what? I lost my wonderful leather gloves today. I wonder what it is about me and gloves...!

Bug, don't you just love the sound of clothes in the dryer? It's very comforting, strangely.

Sparkle, I actually had a squirrel swearing at me the other day. And yes, he had his hands on his little hips too. I interrupted him while he was eating a peanut, and he was mad...! :-)

Elise, I used to hear trains where I live too, but they don't run anymore. *sigh*

DJan, my Dad used to whistle too, and it always meant he was doing something he enjoyed. I loved it!

Anna, we don't have turtle doves here, so that much sound wonderful...! We only have pigeons.

Pauline, what a great list! I love the sound of a plane droning in the distance too. It sounds like summer.

Lilly, bagpipes...! Yes! And, yes, the sound of a newspaper. And usually the person reading it is breathing in a meditative way.

Russell, I have never heard a meadowlark. I don't think we have them here. I do love warblers, however, on a summer evening.

Susan, aren't seagulls a hoot? They always sound as if they're having a huge party, and laughing their heads off...!

PinkPanthress, yes! The sound of someone practicing the piano. That is a nice "homey" sound.

Maggie, omigoodness, you are so sweet! Thank you! You have a fabulous blog!!!

Paula, oh yes, a woodpecker. I love woodpeckers. Little tiny jackhammers. They're wonderful. :-)

Enid, I was thinking the very same thing when I had my shower today. It's a refreshing sound, yes!

Laurie said...

I love the big, contented sigh my dog makes right when he falls asleep.

Bacon sizzling, cats purring, wind chimes (yes, I like wind chimes).

Oh bullfrogs...I grew up in the semi-country and spent a lot of time night fishing with my parents, so I grew to love the sound of a bullfrog. When I met my husband (who grew up in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland), he had just moved into an apartment at the edge of a river. One day he told me about the "awful sound" he'd heard the night before that had kept him awake. A few nights later, we were at his place, and a bullfrog started calling. My mind went back to wonderful childhood memories. My then-boyfriend, jumped up, ran to the window and said, "There's that awful sound again!" boy...

Teri said...

After the week I've had (demanding Father who had heart surgery) my most beloved sounds are now the ones at my own house.

Birds of all kinds singing.

A neighbor up the hill building his new front porch (hammering).

No human voices (yep, it was that bad)just the sounds of my quiet house.

Jennifer D said...

I love the sound of young kids playing outside my house and when the wind blows through the pine trees it sounds just like waves crashing at the beach. I like to sit in the sun and close my eyes and imagine that there is an ocean in front of me. Thanks for inspiring me to think on that one. ;-)

lovelyprism said...

My all time favorite is the wind rustling the trees. Even better if there's a train in the distance :-)