Lakeside: Photo by Noelle

Lakeside: Photo by Noelle

The bench is on the west side of the lake. The trail on this side is little more than mud in January’s warm up. The Eastern side has some stone trails that are well cleared and thus, more trafficked. I am alone, for the moment, and commit to listening and little more.

The wind rubs the winter grass stalks at my feet against each other, dry even in the mud. A warm sun would turn them green, but in these short days their rattle is little more than a reminder of summer snakes long asleep in their holes. Prairie dogs bark incessantly at me, at first. My stillness conquers. Eventually, they chatter amongst themselves no more than old women over a mahjong board. Even in the animal kingdom, neighborhoods have their gossips. The jet passes to the north heading up the spine of the Rockies. I think of travel and vacations both taken and imagined, but the real fly boys bring me back, as the geese come trumpeting off the icy lake heading for fields to dine. I marvel at the pattern. Squawking and honking begins until some unknown pitch is hit and then part of the flock suddenly rises and flies off. The length of this flock must be more than a city block. The group that rises comes from one end of the lake to the other. Some of the groups head east, while others to the south, as if they are aware where the group before them headed and know to seek pastures elsewhere.

I can hear the jogger coming for some time as her running shoes slap the surface of the mud. She is breathing hard and there is the faint tinny sound of music coming through earbuds. Another flock takes off and the wind pushes back my hood. Two women cut through the grassy hillside to beat the muddy trail and talk about teenagers with piercings. The longer I sit the more I’m aware I seem to have left the machine. The swaying cattails are riveting compared to nose rings. I wonder, briefly, where this disengagement with the fast moving world will take me, but even that thought seems more intense then this winter sun will allow. I rest back against the bench and listen.

7 thoughts on “Listening

  1. There is such a peace-fullness despite the honking geese and bits of chatter from people and the prairiedogs so within you have found a great peace.

    • I love the lake. Even in all the chaos of birds and people, especially in the summer, it’s so peaceful by the water. But then, you’d know something about the peacefulness of great lakes….

  2. This vivid picture brings it all back: the nocturnal sounds of Cloud Mountain. For the month-long rertreat I was staying alone in a gigantic tent, bigger than my room at home, at the edge of the woods. T’was a veritable symphony out there between the flocks of Canadian geese that flapped invisibly the whole night through against a backdrop of stars that twinkled so brightly you could almost hear them. A slow crescendo of trains gave a bit of drama to the whole performance. The hoot owls would start their call and response, one of which sounded distinctly like an old English school mistress, correcting the grammar of the others no doubt. Choruses of coyotes came on the wind while other things were knocked about in the forest’s rhythm section. On some nights I could see in the flickering light of the LED candle illuminating the makeshift tent altar the stuccato whisking hump of what ever woodland critter had dug a vast and circuitous network of trenches under almost the entirety of the tent. Only snores of pugs could have improved the ensemble.

    • You should be blogging, my friend. Beautiful description. I camped a great deal on the lake by my home growing up. Yes, the mysterious things outside the tent! Oh and the train. Just lovely.

    • Not sure how I missed this comment, my friend, but thank you so much. Yes, It is a lovely feeling to not feel caught up in what everyone else is doing and not care. I was listening to them talking and thought, I don’t miss idle chatter to avoid the silence. I feel like a huge load has been taken off. I can sit here and just be in the quiet. I wonder, a bit, if you know this feeling when on the bike and just out on an open road alone. Just you and the motor. I suspect it’s very relaxing.

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