I’m gradually learning to listen differently, to hear a depth of music in nature that has eluded me in the past.
I well remember the spring of 2000 and my trip to the Smoky Mountains. On the morning of May 18, I left Gatlinburg TN and drove north on the Foothills Parkway. Around 6 am, near the crest of a mountain, I parked at the side of the road and walked down a steep hill into a ravine. I heard a Wood Thrush singing on the opposite hillside, so I quickly set up my soundscape mike, placing it twenty feet or so from a small brook. I started my recorder and began listening through my headphones.
Another Wood Thrush soon appeared and the two began singing back-and-forth. They were perhaps several hundred feet away and I distinctly remember getting impatient with them, wishing they would come closer, wanting them to be louder and more distinct. “Please come nearer, please come nearer” was my inner mantra. I ran my recorder for about ten minutes and they never did come any closer. So I got up and left, not entirely happy with the result:
Two Wood Thrushes singing in a steep ravine, 5:58am, 18 May 2000, along Foothills Parkway north of Gatlinburg, TN. Recorded by Lang Elliott.
Now I listen with a totally different mind, with completely different ears. I am so very grateful the two thrushes did not come closer. Now I’m taken by the gentle babbling of the brook and the restful, ethereal quality of the reverberant thrush songs, echoing off the slopes of the ravine. I take pleasure in the Scarlet Tanager singing it’s burry song way off in the distance during much of the recording. I am able to relax into this recording and just be there with it . . . in my bedroom, in my studio, wherever . . . thoroughly enjoying the pleasant and healing mix of sounds. Listening to this soundscape transports me into the cool mountains and refreshes my spirit, reminding me once again of the coming of spring.