Ronald May


Jeez! I have been meaning to get to this since a week after my last posting. It’s not because I am even that busy, nope. The excuse is the same as I have used in the past and will most likely reference in the future. I got stuck reading and put this off. Nuff said.

So here is the thing, from our earliest day’s sounds comfort us and repel us. I like to think this is on a near instinctual level but I have no proof to support such a theory, so I leave it to you. For me noise of my Grandparents house when I was very young. My Mother’s parents were first generation immigrants from Germany somewhere, I really wish I knew where but anyway, so they spoke German to one another but had perfect English when they spoke to us, nice right?

The sound of them speaking in low tones early in the morning as they got moving for the day or the Coffee Percolator as it bubbled and boiled are the fondest memories I shall ever have in this life. Starting around seven most mornings the phone started to ring. They ran a successful small business on one phone number and only one phone in the whole house. The answering of that phone all day long from sunrise to long after seven at night is a sound that comforts a memory that is long past.

Conversely, I dislike the sound an air tank makes when you bleed off all the air to drain it once you are done with it. Very high pitch, leaves ringing in the ears, not nice. Something about that disdain is as I said instinctual, I am not sure why. I also instinctually dislike sirens, of nearly any type. That is not all of course but let us not waste time cataloging my individual gripes on noise.

This idea was born out of the sounds I miss from where I am now. There are many but I wish to keep this economic and effective. Let me give you a few as an overview and you will gain some idea of what I mean.

I miss the multiple sounds of birds. You take for granted all the noise birds actually make if you live in a city or populous area. It becomes nearly background noise over time. The only birds we see or hear are Seagulls and Crows. Now Crows I do not mind so much. They are incredible birds but Gulls of nearly any type, bah! Who needs em, noisy buggers! Here, there are zero small species birds except for kildeer at night and we can barely ever hear them. So, when I watch a show with my ear buds in place I can hear all the little birds in the background of some of the scenes, and that makes me miss them that much more.

As I got older I discovered certain sounds that I liked especially. The sound cars make on a quiet road as the automatic transmission switches gears, it’s like a low hum or whistle that picks up tone until the tranny shifts. Or even more than that, the sound of my tires on my bicycle rolling over hot asphalt and the gears turning as I ride alone on a long stretch of highway. I love that sound allot. Just you, the wind and the bike. To me there is nothing as unique.

You grow older though and so you discover new sounds. One that I shall hold dear all my life is someone coming up the stairs in your house. I once had a complex relationship with a woman who would come over to sleep with me a few hours before she went off to work around three thirty a.m.. I guess you could say it was like a regular booty call but like I said it was complex. The sound of her coming in, putting her things down and then quietly climbing the stairs to the loft is a fond remeberance. I find even just hearing the kids climb upstairs in the morning if they woke before me is a great sound. I miss it and look forward to hearing it again.

The noise of traffic to some degree brings me comfort. At my previous facility we could hear people getting to and from more easily than here and so it was easy to feel to pulse and energy of the day. It is ironic because in the apartment I lived in before, I loathed the sound of traffic increasing in the morning or the cars in the evening. I lived far to close to a busy street in Seattle and so it was my own fault. But here, here I find that some early mornings as I leave the chow hall, if I am alone and very few guys are yelling back and forth at each other on the breeze way, it is only then that I can partially hear the cars on the highway heading off for the day.

To that I smile a bit and I miss living in the world most at those times. So often we just do not know how important all these clicks and gurgles are to us until it is gone. Like rain. Oh geez do not even get me started on rain. That is hands down the single most comforting sound you can ever hear on a cool morning around four while you are deeply snuggled in bed, the best right? Here it has to pour buckets to hear on the metal roof of the housing unit. The concrete subdues all the subtle noise of wind and rain that falls most of the time. So, I have learned to be grateful for the deluge.

Lastly, with the climate change I have lost a great sound that I do hope to hear again and again when this is over. The muted, muffled sound of the world after a good snow, so quiet and calm. The last time I really felt that was the winter of 08 into 09. There was lot’s of snow that stuck around for nearly a week right at Christmas, pretty nice.

I will come to discover other sounds I miss and perhaps I will write them, but I felt I needed to start with these. Whatever it is and however you remember it, sounds are everywhere giving us comfort, irritating us, and taking us back in time to moments we hang on to. You are making them all the time, I hope you hear the beauty of this world.

Ronald May
DOC #359444

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