I have the good fortune of living just on the outskirts of a small city. We are within walking distance of the city amenities, I have a two-minute drive to work, and a large city centre is only a 15 minute drive away. But, while our house puts us close to city life, our home is also backdropped by an expansive ravine complete with winding river and forest. The ravine isn’t part of our property, mind you, but we are close enough to a decent habitat for wildlife that we have some of the benefits of living in a more rural location.
When I was young, my grandparents lived along Halls Lake in Haliburton County, Ontario. When visiting, I could look out their dining room window and see a variety of birds which were otherwise foreign to me in my city dwelling. Most memorable were the hummingbirds. I was fascinated by their mesmerizingly fast wings and their apparently effortless ability to hover in mid-air. To some, the sight of a hummingbird might not be all that remarkable, but it was enough to help form in my mind a dream of living in a place where I could see nature up close.
Our goal is ultimately to live farther away from the city but, for now, where I live will do. Not long ago, as Sandra and I sat on our back deck, we were amazed to see a hummingbird appear. We had no feeders to attract them — simply good old-fashioned wildflowers in the garden. I felt blessed, chosen. This small marvel had flown from who-knows-where and had chosen my yard to visit. It seems silly, I know, but I couldn’t help but feel that something special was happening.
In a similar vein, a more frequent benefit of having a treed property closer to nature is that a number of birds have taken up residence close by. I love waking in the morning to the sound of a light breeze blowing through the window, billowing the curtains, and the music of songbirds raising the morning from the depths of night. There is so much variety in their song. To some, this might not seem like such a great thing, but it brings me a sense of peace and timelessness. Other times, sitting outside, I am pleased just to hear the wind blowing through the trees, rustling the leaves, and creaking the branches. That happens when my children are not in proximity, their shouts and screams consuming whatever other sounds I might hear. But, even when the kids are close, there can be pleasure in the sounds of their play — unfettered laughter chief among them.
Other times, when I am travelling in my car, it is rare for me not to have music playing, and I feel excitement at the ebbs and flows and highs and lows of an operatic aria or symphonic movement. And when music or nature does not surround me, I am fortunate just to be able to hear others speak to me and to know what they are saying.
In every second of my life, I find benefit in sound — a phenomenon so much more meaningful than the simple displacement of air which forms its physical properties. Today, I am thankful for the ability to hear, because it is not something to be taken for granted when there are so many people who cannot.