I remember once talking with a friend whose profession is measuring sound and engineering things (buildings, homes, etc.) for the better projection (or more often, the lessening) of sound. He said that pain begins when the level of sound reaches 125db (decibels). I wasn’t surprised at that. I’d felt that pain a time or two as a musician trying to hear myself over a number of drummers and electric guitar players whose identities will be withheld.
What I was surprised to learn was that ambient sound (the stuff that’s just happening around you all day long) is between 65 and 85db. An air conditioner running in the background can be 50db. Conversation with one other person is 60db.
There is sound all around us.
Most mornings between May and September, I spend at least a few minutes on my patio with a cup of coffee. Chuck’s Roast, of course. On my days off, it sometimes stretches into a couple of hours. I love my patio. In the afternoons and evenings when I’m out here, I’ll occasionally bring out music of some sort to listen to. But never in the morning. That’s my quiet time when I listen to the world waking up.
The things I hear when it’s quiet.
A squirrel running along the back fence, scratching the wood with its feet. An airplane on its departure from CLT. Cars going to and from on Sharon-Amity. The breeze in the tops of the trees. Two other squirrels jumping from one tree to the next, rustling the limbs and the leaves along the way. Henry racing across the lawn, ruffling the dried leaves still on the ground.
Services are starting soon at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and people are arriving…talking, laughing, greeting one another. Two chipmunks conversing from one flower bed to another. At least 10 different kinds of bird voices that I can distinguish. A mosquito buzzing my ear, and a bumblebee bumping against the window. The lab on the next street over barking at something. A group of motorcycles motoring past.
I set my empty coffee cup on the table with a little clink, and realize that the quiet will soon be replaced with other sounds – the radio, television, iPod and even some live music. So it’s all good.
But I love the quiet sounds of a morning on the patio.