News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

October 25, 2011

LIZ CIANCONE: Sounds of silence are now hard to find

Is there anyplace left where there is no noise — other than the comforting noises of nature?

A radio goes with us in our cars. Television is a near constant in our homes. A Sunday drive involves not only the throb of the engine in our own car, but all too frequently we are “treated” to a pulsating of music from the car in front of us (or behind us) which hits the ear drums even with all windows closed. It’s hard to miss the whine of an airplane above you or the blare of a train whistle.

So, stay at home, right? Close the windows and doors. Leave the radio and television off. That should do it? Sorry, there is street and/or highway noise, the blare of sirens, airplanes and, at our house, the accelerating engines at a mini race track some blocks distant. Noise comes through the walls.

I thought of this the other day when I pondered the coming winter. One of the joys of my youth was a solitary get-away in search of peace and quiet.

Our home sat at the top of a hill which sloped down to Blackberry Creek. The creek was rather shallow so during the Northern Illinois winters, we could count on many weeks of having it frozen over. We walked across it on our way to the Mill Pond to ice skate.

Mom got so she could recognize my restlessness and she would provide a thermos of hot bullion and a sandwich. I’d walk down to the creek, strap on a pair of skis and head out following the creek’s frozen and snowy surface for miles. The only sound would be the soft plop as a blob of snow fell from the trees or, maybe, the call of a bird.

I’d stop to rest, find a fallen log, brush off the snow and wash bites of sandwich down with a swig of hot bullion. If my lunch attracted a cardinal or other bird, I’d share a crumb or two.

I do like Indiana’s state parks, but even there, and even in the dead of winter, it’s hard to ignore the noises of civilization. When our sons were young, I’d pack sandwiches and hot bullion and we’d go to one of the parks to follow animal tracks in the snow — keep warm with bullion and share our sandwiches with the birds.

I wonder if it’s still quiet along Blackberry Creek.

Liz Ciancone is a retired

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