Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Nature Nerd Wedesdays

Welcome to Nature Nerd Wednesdays, your mid-week nature break to reconnect with the calming, refreshing, and inspiring effects of nature. Take a deep breath and enjoy...

Beneath the bigleaf maple at English Camp, San Juan Island. Lainey Piland photo

I'm known among my friends and family as one who prefers quiet and the sounds of nature over the sound of music, radio, or television. I feel there's enough noise in my life that when I'm outdoors I'd prefer to enjoy the peaceful sound of bird chatter and breezes sighing through the trees rather than stuff earbuds in my auditory canals and tune out the world around me. Music or radio with its crackling static and loud commercials become a grating annoyance.

But of course, as with everything in life... there are exceptions.

I read this Seattle Times article written by environment reporter extraordinaire Lynda V. Mapes, about a group of musicians who compose music inspired by - and meant to be played in - the great outdoors. Music in the American Wild aims to celebrate this year's centennial of our national parks through music. Their music is different than any I've heard. At first I found its halting rhythms frustrating to listen to, but when I just let it be and stopped trying to force it to harmonize with my idea of what music should sound like, I started to hear more. I could hear the sound of birds chirping, crickets rasping, a wind blowing through dry grasses. I heard the soft hooting of a great horned owl, a creek murmuring through a rocky streambed.

Take a listen and see what you hear:

The article mentions that this particular performance was set in English Camp on San Juan Island. I've visited that place, sat under those very same bigleaf  maples. The music, like the setting, feels close, tranquil and quiet.  Listening to the performance, I wonder what the same music would sound like in my Maple Cathedral at Saint Edward State Park. Big and echoing like the notes of an organ played in a cavernous church; carrying through the canyon walls and flowing out over Lake Washington.

It's amazing that listening to music can cause us to envision and imagine a place differently; to see new angles and dimensions previously below the sensibilities of our perception.

"Maple Cathedral," Saint Edward State Park.

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