City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

September 29, 2016

September 29th

Filed under: Cricket, Northern flicker, People, Sounds, Stream — canopus56 @ 8:53 pm

The Sounds of Solitude

Noon at mile 0.5. Stream bubbles with random plonks and trickles. Crickets make a relaxing, rhythmic pulsation. Wind ebbs and flows through the trees, and it dislodges leaves that silently fall to the road. Wind whistles through spokes as a bicycle whizzes by. Crackling noises as leave are underfoot. Voices of couples walking and talking makes its own musical rhythm. Muffled footsteps of runners. A sole Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) makes a plaintive cry seeking its mate. Joy ensues, and I seek out clumps of leaves just to listen to their crackling sounds as I sluff through them.

One of the most enjoyable experiences when jogging or walking in the canyon is the sounds. My favorite sounds come from the stream combined with the rhythmic pulse of the crickets. Today, both are loud because the stream is running higher from recent rain and the crickets now dominate canyon insect life. These sounds form a relaxing, meditative white noise. These sounds make jogging in the canyon a form of moving zen meditation.

The purpose of zen and other forms of mediation is discrimination, i.e. – the discrimination of the mind from the world, thus, freeing consciousness to fully appreciate the world as it is and not as the mind distorts it. Some choose to consider this as a religious and others as a psychological practice. However it is viewed, the experience of walking and jogging in the canyon is about quieting the mind and enjoying the natural surroundings. It is not about note-taking, observing, and writing about it.

At the portion of the road between mile 1.7 and 2.0, the stream makes the best noise. Here, the stream is immediately next to the road and is fast moving, but it has cut deep into a ravine that is in perpetual shadow. The plonk sound of water as it travels from pool to pool is particularly crisp and deep as it echos of the stream’s walls. At the coldest of winter and for just one week, this is the only part of the stream in the entire canyon that completely freezes over.

Paul Simon in his classic folk song the “Sounds of Silence” reminds us to occasionally be still and to look inward. The canyon produces sounds of solitude that also remind me to be still.

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