Morning sounds different in South Carolina.
Sitting on my grandma’s porch drinking coffee, the new sounds captivate me, pull me into the beauty of the morning.
In the canopy overhead, a symphony of unfamiliar bird calls, each more interesting than the next. There’s a persistent high pitched trill, repeated over and over with such determination and dedication I think it’s owner is desperate to communicate his message. On the opposite end of the scale, a low quacking rumble, coming from somewhere in the lagoon nearby. Understated and quietly riveting.
Hidden among the leaves of a nearby bush, a songbird sings a song resembling a contented whistle. I can’t find its owner but the upbeat nature of the tune makes me smile as I picture a line of dwarves heading off to work.
Occasionally I hear a sound I do know; the caw of a crow as it flies overhead, the happy chirp of the chick-a-dee as it flits from tree to tree.
And underneath it all, a quiet, subdued coo. So faint I almost miss it. Audible only if everyone else is silent. I wonder briefly how that bird will ever find a mate when he’s so hard to hear. Does she have ears only for him?
Each one, unique. Interesting. Unfamiliar.
I tense as I hear movement in the undergrowth that covers the forest floor below me, certain an alligator is about to emerge. The sound grows louder. Closer. I breathe a sigh of relief as a resident squirrel bounds into sight, busily sorting through fallen leaves for breakfast treasures.
As I relax and close my eyes, a power saw whines, joined by the beat of a hammer as construction begins on the house next door, evidence that life goes on after a hurricane. Down the street a leaf blower starts as a landscaper gets to work separating the fallen pine needles from their grassy beds. Manmade machine sounds blend with the natural creating an interesting orchestra that fills the air.
I sit, taking it all in. Separating sounds from one another. Seeing how many I can hear.
Even the wind sounds different as it moves gently through the trees instead of across the open valleys of Montana. It’s more of a whisper, just a hint of its sound back home. And yet it’s still able to create both a fine white noise, and a host of individual sounds. The subtle rattle of leaves, the clitter-clack of a pinecone tumbling through the branches to the bed of leaves below, the tinkle of a wind chime at the neighbor’s house.
It’s been three sips of coffee, but it feels much longer.
Out front in the driveway a car door slams, my signal it’s time to engage with the world.
Reluctantly I open my eyes and take a last sip.
Questions flutter through my mind as I stand, collect my things, move to the door.
Does every place in the world have its own unique set of morning sounds? Would I recognize my set of sounds? How long would I have to live in a place for its morning sounds to become those I associate with home?
It never occurred to me I might be able to identify my home by the sounds of the morning; sounds I didn’t realize were familiar until they were replaced by others.
It makes me wonder how often I actually stop and listen.
How often I stop and notice the world around me.
How often I stop and hear what a place has to share.
How often I stop and marvel at the living things I share the world with.
How often I stop at all.