So here I am. Yes but where am I? Where is here? Let me look.
At first glance it looks like the homestead of my great grandfather in South Dakota where he came to start a new life after earning the money on a Missouri riverboat. But then two small kangaroos casually hop by.
What kind of impression can I form just by listening then?
Well it must be dawn because all the birds are singing. But these are not birds that I have heard before. There is the one with the lovely warble, sideways like soap bubbles, like some electronic a burble in a techno song. Another one jeers like a Fox News anchor.
The breeze again is blowing through the trees but these are not familiar leaves rattling and twisting in the wind, but slender ones that swish like horses tails, sighing in a slow stereo sweep like the wind in movies.
I hear here are very irregular passing of single cars –– like soloists down a worn road paved long ago. I can her this roughness in the surface, so it’s not a main road. It’s morning, are they on their way to work? If so there are not many of them. the acoustic is very dry here. The car passes with no echoes, no reverberating through forests or reflections bouncing off of houses. Not much cement, not many buildings.
Now a jet passes very high above, steady, coasting to land or straining to take off. It’s slow progress across the sky is un-deflected by clouds. So it must be wide open sunny skies.
The slow steady progress of the high altitude jet plays against the rolling sweep of the wind in these extrordinairlily tall trees. The wind in the trees is very restless – like the stir of orchestral strings first passing through the violins, now the violas, now the cellos. The steady ostinato of the jet droning across the sky drives them on.
It’s a bit of a playground for the birds here this morning . That fabulous bird splays its circular song again, one of many strange calls. Now another’s jet passes high overhead. We are under some flight path, I guess.
As a person who lives by a busy commuter road an hour from New York City on a good day, with trains and boats and planes running by, I think I’m somewhere very remote right now. I can hear this remoteness. There is no constant roar that tells me I’m close to commuters in large numbers trying to get to work. There is no rumble of train, no helicopter.
In the last days of travel my poor bombarded ears, stunned by travel, have withdrawn exhausted from a series of artificially controlled environments –– the tube of throbbing jets, the air conditioned remoteness of waiting lounges, the aggression of Musak infestations in transit bays, the pulsing of prop jet. Now they are waking up and welcoming in the fresh sounds of unfamiliar territories. They are cautiously crawling from the protective shells of their ear canals and venturing forth to gather information in this new environment. They are sending little wake up calls to the brain to shed those protective filters, to open the doors that shut down big time in the confusion and fatigue of travel and venture forth and explore the unfamiliar.
It’s a survival instinct I suppose if we want to blame it on Darwin, like so much else. I need my ears now to find out where I am, how I am to connect to the world around me. All these fresh new patterns to decode. So stunned from the overwhelming constancy and loudness of international jet travel, they are now venturing forth to engage, decode, spark the inquisitive hunter gatherer nature that still resides in this inhabitant of simultaneous worlds. Because at this moment I inhabit the hunter-gatherer world of an human animal decoding a new and fresh savanah environment I was just dropped down in the middle of last night after long travel half way end the world. I also inhabit the information age as I tap on my iPad and record my thoughts. I inhabit the industrial age as I listen to the cars and jets pass. I inhabit the agricultural age as I get hungry for breakfast and assume that there is perhaps some stored food nearby that I did not grow myself.
Time for breakfast!