The Sound of Gardens

Ahhh, when the neighborhood gets quiet…

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY KERRY CESEN

Trevor, why the $&@**!! did you do that?” I hear my neighbor yell at his 12-year-old son. I am on my back deck; they are in their front yard two houses down. That’s something I’ve never understood—cussing at a child. A few minutes later, Trevor and his brother bike off to school. “Let’s get the $&@**!! out of here!” he shouts to Tanner. Perfect! The only thing worse than an adult cussing is a child doing it.

I sigh, drink my coffee on the deck, and wait for the neighborhood to quiet. Soon all of the adults have gone to work (I have the day off), the children have gone to school, and the dogs in the neighborhood have been put inside for the day. I have the whole day to myself. I am, at heart, a solitary person. I need this time alone to recharge. I head out back to work in the gardens. As I work, my mind calms, and I hear the sounds of nature.

Soon the birds come out, singing to each other, their tweets and chirps a delightful harmony. A rat-a-tat-tat tells me the woodpeckers have arrived. Breakfast is being served on the dead maple in the back corner.

I have the whole day to myself. At heart a solitary person, I need this time to recharge. I head out to work in the gardens.

I notice skittering and rustling amongst the oak leaves and hear excited chattering. I look up and see the squirrels chasing each other up and down through the trees. Once upon a time Bodie, my dog, would have been chasing the squirrels. Now that he’s 11, he’d rather nap in the sun.

The gentle tones of the wind chimes catch my attention. I have some that are specifically tuned to suggest a Mozart melody. Others sound like church bells. Some were bought more for aesthetics than sound. Together they create a beautiful concert conducted by the slowly blowing breeze.

A whirring sound alerts me to the hummingbird on her way to the feeder. Another darts in and tries to chase her away. They dance in midair around each other. One flies off; the other drinks her fill. She leaves and quickly her opponent arrives.

As the sun moves from east to west, other noises begin to intrude. Children come home from school, laughing and calling to each other. Adults return from their jobs. My husband comes home and turns on the TV. I start dinner; pots and pans rattle in the kitchen.
Soon the noise of the neighborhood grows louder. Lawn mowers start. Dogs bark. Trevor and other neighborhood children play a game of hoops in his driveway. Teenagers rev the engines of their vehicles to impress each other.

As the sun sets, the noise abates once again. I lie in bed, windows open, listening. Soon I hear the frogs in the pond, calling each other. A soft breeze stirs the wind chimes near my window. I drift off to sleep, thanking God for gardens.

And silence.


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