Excerpt from  Step Into Nature

by  Patrice Vecchione

How many sounds does a day have?

Shortly before beginning a recent forest walk, I heard myself say out loud: “There, there.” I tend to speak my mind without thinking, but this was not exactly that; more like a parent trying to calm a hurt child. Once my feet found the trail, I calmed.

There, each thing has its place; each sound has ample space around it. That late afternoon, over the course of a brief hour, I counted twenty-three sounds: scrub jays in the bushes; mourning doves at a distance; something like a cricket, only not a cricket; two birds in the brush sounding like little girls in the corner of a room sharing a secret—with a rushing rise and fall of their voices, shared excitement over the thing that cannot wait to be said; yet another bird sounded like blowing bubbles through a straw at the bottom of a near-empty glass; wind late to get to its next appointment; one bird’s voice is a blown kiss; traffic on some road I’d already forgotten existed; a small someone hopping in the bramble; a woodpecker knocking against a tree; my own footsteps; an airplane taking off—oh, poor travelers, moving at such unnatural speeds, desiring another location; twigs falling; a pinecone rolling downhill; a high-pitched cry, but I don’t know whose; more wind rushing through the Monterey pines; a loud chorus of jays when I unexpectedly interrupted them; my car door opening, shutting, a responsive engine; tires on gravel; the sound of me reluctantly going home but happy. My own song: sighing appreciatively for having heard these twenty-three sounds.

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