Last night was very quiet — I went to listen for owls and nightjars at 4 am but all I could hear was the occasional high pitched bip of a bat passing overhead, looking for the last of the midges.
I leaned against the field gate and listened very hard — faintly there was the white noise of the stream, fifty yards below, a billion splashes and glugs of millions of different, asynchronous frequencies vibrating the air. But above that there was another sound. Above, because it seemed to come from above, but below in pitch — a celestial hum. There was no wind, no traffic for fifty miles, not a plane in the sky — only drifting cloud over a hazy moon and this strange brown noise (or maybe it was purple). Infinite sound from an infinite number of sources — jet planes in Cardiff, a generator in Machynlleth, the creaking of the trees, dogs in far off farms barking at the moon (too far away to distinguish individually and too many), thunder on the coast and the sea lapping on the shore, back doors opening (to let out cats), snoring from upstairs windows and sheep (millions of them) eructating — burping in the moon shadows.
All these sounds bounce over the Earth, off the sides of houses, resonating in tin sheds and ricocheting off cliffs and bouncing off the underside of the clouds. They can be muffled by the mist and absorbed by the moss and the snow but they all combine to make the hum of our planet.
We value the darkness of our nights (the lack of light polution) that allows us to see the brightness of the firmament. Last night I appreciated the stillness of the night that allowed me to hear beyond the silence!
2 thoughts on “Listening through the silence”
Why were you up and out at 4am ?
Unfortunately here in Pytchley when it is quiet we near the traffic hum of th A14 .X B
Because, since I stopped lambing, I miss the night! If I wake, I sometimes pop out to make sure it is still there!