The eerie sound of silence

By Haven Lindsey  in  blog  on  06.24.2015

Silence. I love it. Neither afraid, nor uncomfortable, that proverbial sound of silence is one of my favorites. In a hyper-stimulated, noisy world, I don’t need all the sounds. I’m good with all the quiet. As much as I love music, silence has a sound that I can hear and it’s one of my favorites.

Many people require noise or stimulation…for some it is the equivalent of validation or the antidote for loneliness…for me…not so much. Perhaps I appreciate the sound silence makes because it took me years to actually hear it. I love running through Bull Creek and being keenly aware of the water trickling through the huge boulders. I listen to the branches rub against one another in the breeze and I hear the flapping of that amazing blue heron who I see on the edge of the creek. I hear the wind and even the silent echo and I feel blessed. I meditate in silence and love the cacophony of sound.

But right now…the silence is way too loud. It’s unsettling. I want to know that they are all ok. I miss their sounds and if this new silence means they’ve grown and literally flown the coop then I’m ok with that…and I suppose that’s what I have to believe yet I wonder…where are they…where did they go.

We have a beautiful porch. On it sits a rocking chair with a decorative pillow and a little table; there is a matching rug. It isn’t Norman Rockwell (because this is Texas and not New England) but still…it’s just plain ol’ lovely and worthy of a painting. Our front door is a cheerful, welcoming yellow. All along the edge of the porch hang healthy, lush ferns. In the tree nearby hangs a bird-feeder that is kept filled. And up until this evening there was a mother wren who worked to feed and care for her babies who were living in one of the fern plants.

Pine Cone birds

Pine Cone watched the mama wren feed her babies while hiding under her bedding.

I’m not sure how long they were there. Not long enough.

I love to keep the front door open because Sunny comes to sit and play through the glass with Pine Cone. When I see her, I let Sunny in for a treat (or two) and lots of hugs. And because I’m in the habit of keeping the door open, I noticed the mother wren. She called out a lot and worked diligently to feed her babies. They spoke a language and I although didn’t know what I was hearing, I had begun to recognize the different intonations. I watched her come and go and was amazed to hear the chicks cry loudly when she was there with food (“me, me, me”) and then go intensely silent as soon as their mama flew away.

Nature is wise and those little baby birds knew to stay quiet and safe until mama returned. I suspect they knew when their mama was near because I had begun to discern a different call when she was perched nearby. Respectful of the process happening before me, I chose not to sit out on the porch or get too close in an effort to not disturb her as she cared for her chicks. I loved coming home from work and opening the door to hear them and see her flying in and out. It was special and I knew it.

Today I came home from work and opened the front door to an eerie quiet. No calls, no flurry, no sound. Too quiet. I went about my routine, taking care of what I needed to do all the while wondering why the silence was screaming at me from the front porch.

They are gone. Mama is gone and so are her babies. There is no fluttering to and from, there are no tiny squeechy sounds coming from the fern plant. Silence. Perhaps they have grown and flown away, perhaps this new silence which I do not enjoy is gifting me with the opportunity to understand what silence may be like for others. I’ve always enjoyed the quiet until tonight. And now, the silence is so loud it is hard to turn down, there is no mute. I have to listen to the quiet. Tonight, I think I get it…maybe for the first time…why so many of us need distractions, noise and constant stimulation. If this is what silence feels like for some, I now have compassion. I now understand. The silence that emanates from the front porch is loud enough that I’ve grown uncomfortable, unsettled and concerned.

I don’t like this new version of silence. I want mama wren back. I want her to flutter and call. I want to hear her babies. Finally, when I could no longer tolerate the screaming silence, I checked. I climbed up and peered into the thick fern for the first time. They’re gone. No one is there. It’s like they were never there. The silence is deafening.

Thanks for reading,

~ Haven