The soothing sound of silence

A Red squirrel dines on an abundance of hemlock seeds, leaving piles of scales below.Rows of waves crash in thunderous cadence onto the rocks outside my bedroom window. Some 15 miles to the southeast, the Monhegan Island light blinks its warning to passing vessels: “The rock on which I stand has been here billions of years, and likely will be here billions more,” the lighthouse flashes. “Pass with care.”

Winters can be frigidly unforgiving. A young couple who had gone to town one winter day spent longer away than planned. If one is accustomed to living in a winter wood, one knows how to “bank” a fire so it will burn all day, slowly, to keep the house from freezing. But the hour had become late, and the fire expired, leaving the cabin turned cold enough to freeze stuff.

The couple shared their abode with a pair of parakeets, and returned home to discover the birds lying in their cage, his right arm-wing lying across her as though to lend what warmth he could.

One afternoon, outside my window, a Northern Cardinal dad selected a sunflower seed from the pile, spun it with his jaws and tongue until the shell fell away. He flew to a nearby dogwood tree where his son awaited, and fed the seed to the youngster.

I would argue strongly with anyone who contends only human critters know love.

Outside the door, a Red squirrel devours pine nuts – pine cone seeds – leaving a pile of scales to mark his spot, like a campfire left behind by passing campers. He will store some away for winter, the way a mother might put up preserves and sausage and the man of the house stack wood for a winter night fire.

The Puffins have passed already, heading for their wintering waters, but a large flock of Black ducks have taken station in front of the porch, diving for goodies churned up by the incoming tide. Now and then, one stands on the water and stretches its wings. I have not yet acquired the picture I desire; fortunately, I have time, and digital camera memory cards are reusable. In an earlier time, I bought, rolled and developed film, and tossed in the trash the celluloid having not captured the desired image.

The Waxing Gibbous – nearly full – moon climbs the dark ceiling of my world, and paves a silvery path across Muscongus Bay, daring me to attempt a stroll across the liquid translucence that, no matter where I move, ends just short of my feet.

The tide lifts nine to 11 feet daily, depending on the effect of the moon, from low to high water. It is difficult to imagine the quantity of water moving in and out of the bay – fully submerging, then fully exposing, a rock the size of a small school bus in front of our porch.

The waves softly roar like constant wind blowing through the hemlocks surrounding the cabin. A real wind would rock the camp, but these nights there is no motion, just the constant light wh-o-o-sh sweeping away metropolitan nerves. Awhile back, someone else stayed at this cabin, experiencing anew the joy of being beyond the connection of a cell phone. He wrote in the guest book that the constant wind kept folks awake at night, and they would not be returning.

It was the reverse of my grandma’s experience. She lived next to a train track, and woke with a start when the 2 a.m. freight did not thunder past on time.

It’s all according to what aural blanket one is accustomed to wrapping oneself. Silent relaxation clearly means different things to different people.

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