Saturday, 28 June 2008

In the still of the night

I often walk outside at night, usually during the ad breaks on telly (getting more frequent and interminably longer on the commercial free to air networks), to see how many meteors I can spot (7 in 15 minutes last night), how many different frog calls there seem to be (5), and generally just to "commune with nature".

It's fortunate that we live on acreage far enough away from "civilization" to not have much in the way of light, air or noise pollution, but at this time of year, with the inversion layer, sound travels more easily, so I usually get treated various neighbours' taste in music ('60s and '70s folk rock this time), diesel generators, dogs barking and vehicles returning home along the network of gravel roads.

In between human activity, I can make out nature sounds from native critters like flying foxes chattering noisily when they've discovered some blossoms or seeds, bats - with their echo location (which is pretty amazing when one zooms past close to your head!) owls, frogmouths and other nocturnal birds, possums scooting along the branches in the canopy, and padymelons and bettongs foraging in the undergrowth and keeping the grass short.

But every now and then, there is no sound .... not even the wind blowing through the leaves.

It is completely and utterly still. Completely and utterly silent.

There is only my breathing and heartbeat, or tinnitus. Instinctively, I begin to breathe more evenly, deeper, relaxing into calm.

Then .... the wind picks up, a bird calls, a dog barks. The spell is broken. I return indoors.

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