Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sounds on a Walk, Feb. 17.

A crow gives five sharp caws as I walk up the slight hill away from home.

Three blocks from downtown, I hear a harmonica.  On the next block, I sight the small red-haired boy, who has found a IV chord and its resolution.  As I approach, I hear him hum between the chords, a hum that sounds like an intoned moo.

On the next block there is hammering and sawing and stapling, work on the new siding for the sprinkler factory that is to become an antique mall.  Mexican music from a tape player accompanies the workers’ progress.

As I wait to cross the major highway running through downtown, I notice the sounds of automobiles and trucks, decreasing or increasing speed.  Nobody sounds a horn.

I approach the railroad tracks by going down a hill.  I follow the bed. I cross the rails and walk along the other side under dogwood trees, hearing my shoes slush and crunch in melting snow and ice.

In a few more blocks there is the sharp teer, teer, teer, teer of whatever bird makes that call.  He is interrupted by a trio of sirens, one from the firehouse at the west, one from the firehouse at the south, and one racing somewhere to the north.

A roly-poly man approaches and as he passes on the other side of the street, I hear a quiet, “What?” “Why?” “Okay.”  Almost a bird-type call.

As I pass the small wooded lot, I hear the rustle of tenacious oak leaves and beech leaves.

On the block before home, there is the rustling sound of a wind chime made of thin  material.

Driving into Two Towns in Eastern North Carolina. 

The major U.S. highway passes into the towns, and the impression a traveler receives is one of commercial blight.  In addition to huge chain stores such as Wal-Mart and Target and Home Depot,  there are miles of strip malls, shopping centers with busy, crowded parking lots.  Many chain restaurants are there.  It’s as if an enclosed mall were loosed in disarray on the landscape.  There are massive non-denominational churches and Pentecostal churches.  Traffic moves dreadfully slow.  There are no trees; there is no landscaping–no green space, no park, no house or building set back in a yard.  That was my welcome to two towns, places I would not want to visit after such an introduction.  It’s sad how we sometimes present ourselves.

A Mockingbird. 

As I lay down on the massage table for energy work, I noticed, over the quiet music of the tape the therapist was playing, a mockingbird start singing.  After days of snow and overcast skies, the sun came out about an hour before my appointment.  I supposed he was welcoming it, and fairer weather.  He continued the entire hour and twenty minutes of my session.  When I got down from the table, he stopped.  I was amazed at the long song and perfect timing with my appointment, if he had that in mind.


The New Yorker has provided me with interesting reading.  The nonfiction piece, “Thicker Than Water: A Nantucket Family’s Trial at Sea” by Tad Friend is a contemporary survival story with exciting narration and provocative examination of the relationship between humankind and the sea.  (Feb. 10, 2014)

In the same issue is Zadie Smith’s excellent short story “Moonlit Landscape with Bridge.” In the February 3, 2014 issue is Donald Antrim’s short story, “The Emerald Light in the Air.”  When I finished each, I wanted to talk with someone about them.  The magazine had links to their web site in which authors write about their works.  The site serves as the next best thing to a good conversation with others.

Thank you for reading.  I hope your week will be good.


About billwednesdayblog

Retired high school English and French teacher.
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1 Response to Wednesday, February 19, 2014

  1. Dave A says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s comments about the “sounds of the town.” As a youngster I had an early morning paper route through our semi-rural neighborhood and I began remembering the variety of sounds I heard while walking/biking in those pre-dawn hours, passing the three local farms, through the two trailer courts, and along the highway.

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