Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Gift of Geophony

Photo published for Camera+ photo

Yesterday I drove to the Lakeshore Lodge Point in Prince Edward County (above), perhaps 45 minutes from our home in Belleville. I was dog tired but I didn't want to waste a beautiful morning inside. Ruth was working, so I went on my own, and when I arrived no one else was there. This is the disadvantage and advantage of a Monday day off.

As soon as I opened the vehicle door I could hear the roar of the surf nearby, the closest we come to the sound of the ocean in the southern part of our province. I walked out and around the point and then along the other side where I found a bench to plant myself for a while. I spent half an hour or so reading from a long-time companion, a gem of a book of writings about nature by the late hermit and contemplative, Thomas Merton. I soaked up the music of the natural world with a total absence of human-made noise and sound.

Image result for when the trees say nothing

Eventually I returned to my vehicle and took a shortcut path across the peninsula. I stopped partway so that I could savour the sounds of waves on the shore from three directions, what I described in a tweet as the Creator's three-part harmony. I felt revived by the experience, and graced by God's Spirit.

I thought about the description by Dr. Bernie Krause of the geophany, biophony, and anthropophony which make up our soundscape. Anthrophony is what we as humans create, louder and louder it seems, to the point of cacophony. Biophany is the sound of the "birds and the bees" which is rising in pitch in these milder days. Geophony is the naturally occurring sound coming from different types of habitats, whether marine or terrestrial. Hearing the geophonic sound of the waves was wonderful, richly earthly and heavenly at the same time.

Listening and appreciating our soundscape is an essential aspect of being human and of being children of the Creator God. When we lose this we lose something essential to our being.

Who knows, we may be treated to the geophonic gift of a thunderstorm this evening, if the forecast is correct.

Are you aware of your soundscape? Have you noticed anthropophony crowding out geophany and biophony during your lifetime?

Image result for the great animal orchestra book


roger said...

What a coincidence - my wife and I also spent the day in the County on Monday. My mother passed away on Thursday, and I felt going to the County and taking in the sights and sounds of nature would be life-affirming and positive. I'm so glad we did this. Just listening to the sounds of the waves is so nice.

Frank said...

Roger. So glad you were able to receive some comfort amidst your loss.

I recall going away for ten days to scout camp as a kid. Returning to the city neighbourhood of our family home was really disturbing. We didn't have air conditioning and had to sleep with our bedroom windows open to the urban noise surrounding us. What a racket! It took me the rest of August to adjust back to human noise in time for the beginning of the new school year.

David Mundy said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mother Roger. I know that it has been a long, difficult decline for her health, and this has been hard for your family. God be with you all. Monday in The Country was life-affirming.

roger said...

Thank you David and Frank. I am grateful that, although I had been working in Windsor when my sister called about mum being taken to hospital, I was able to get to Peterborough hospital in time and spend two hours with her before she passed. It was peaceful and the whole family was there.