News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Mike Lunsford

November 16, 2009

The Off Season: A night spent exploring the universe

Despite being reared in an age of great scientific and technological discovery, I have always believed that walking into a breeze or looking up at the stars trumps the laboratory explanations for their being. That idea was reinforced in me again a few nights ago.

I am a walker, not at the mall or on the local high school track, but along our country road; I have written of that place often in this space. My wife, when she is not pedaling her bicycle along that same sliver of blacktop, most often joins me.

We do not dodder; we really pick them up and put them down as we race the sun.

But on an evening last week when she was typically working late at cleaning up the messes her elementary school library visitors had left for her, I struck out from our back step to walk into what was left of a gorgeous day, most of which we had spent behind the wheel of our car.

I knew the walk would help me work the kinks out of my back, but I felt that, even more, I needed to work a few out of my head, too. Most of us live in a noisy world; I fear we, as a species, have begun to fear hearing too little rather than too much. A typical downtown street corner usually blasts it pedestrians with 70 decibels or more of roar. Ratchet that up a few notches higher when adding trains and obnoxious car stereos.

We may be beginning to fear quietude, and, unfortunately, many people now link it to inactivity and idleness and boredom. I am concerned that fewer and fewer of us want to listen to the wind and to the skitter of corn leaves or to the chorus of fall’s last bugs. Just yesterday, it was the annoying drone of motorbikes and four-wheelers that I heard over the gentler sounds of our countryside.

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