Wild Sounds in the City

“A soundscape is worth ten thousand pictures.” ~ Bernie Krause

It was almost midnight when the loud cry of a hadeda echoed through the dark sky. How unusual! It got me thinking about nature’s wild sounds. I found this misplaced cry of the hadeda alarming, yet comforting at the same time. It made me long to hear the wild sounds of natural world. I wanted to hear the jackal calling in the night and owls hooting somewhere in the stars the way they do in the bushveld. I wanted to hear the sound of ocean waves crushing on a quiet dark shore and the sound of gusty wind whistling through the forest.

The city sounds are different. Even though I live in a relatively quiet place where there is loads of birdlife, there is always the constant sound of traffic from somewhere in the background. I’ve learnt that sometimes one just has to reach for the quietness beyond the distant hum of traffic and city noises to hear the voice of mystery. When I drop into this deep listening space, the world of man-made sound dissipates and all is still enough for me to hear different things – the breeze passing through the pepper tree leaves, the flutter of wings and the flowers signing to the sky. There are so many beautiful touches of nature to notice and listen to here. I am fortunate to live in a city full of trees, with touches of wild rivers, wetlands and open grass fields here and there. Yet at times like this, I recognise that there is just something special and irreplaceable about the soundscapes of wild places, and I long to be immersed in their healing presence.

So right now, this is what I’m dreaming of.

In reading a bit about wild soundscapes I made an interesting discovered that I want to share. I came across an article about Bernice Krause The man who listens to animals. It’s so fascinating how much listening to the sound of a place can tell us about natural environment. It’s also interesting how environmental degradation has altered the biophony in certain landscapes. I look forward to getting my hands on Krause’s book to learn more.

night sky


3 thoughts on “Wild Sounds in the City

  1. sarah

    I hadn’t thought before, not consciously anyway, about how wildlife sounds can teach us of the health of a place. I guess that’s because I’m a visual processing kind of person. Perhaps too because I’ve lived near motorways or busy main roads for the past seven years and the constant hum of traffic wounds the hearing sense. You have given me food for contemplation today 🙂

  2. Anne Linn

    You write this so beautifully. I think when I lived in the city, I got used to it, to the noise, and somehow managed to focus on the green outside my window, the big tree and the squirrel living in it. Those times I visited a park full of quiet, I started remembering how I yearned for nature, for deep silence. Then I felt tired of the city.

    1. Jodi Sky Rogers

      Thank you Anne! Indeed, I think we tend to adjust on some levels and be grateful for the little touches of wildness that we do have. And isn’t it comforting to have a tree and squirrel to watch as you’ve said. Although ideally I’d love to live in a small coastal town surrounded my nature, the kind I grew up in, my husband’s work keeps us here. We are always looking for options and hope that moving will be possible in a few years. For now, I have to make peace with where we are.

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