When I was a little girl, my grandparents owned an old farm house in upstate New York. It is where my parents taught me names of wildflowers, I could walk to the next properties to see cows roaming the pastures and where I could fish and find salamanders in the nearby reservoir. I have many memories of my trips there, and the sounds that I heard there stick out in my mind.
Often I would wake in the morning and lie still in bed just listening. Sometimes I heard movement down in the kitchen, but more often I was tuning in with the sounds outside. I could hear the birds singing, which to this day is a sound that makes me smile. One sound that I loved to hear was the call of the train whistle in the distance. The nearest track was miles away, but the call of the train would carry all the way to the farm house. I used to feel so comforted hearing the whistle, especially in the early morning.
A lot of the day was spent outside, playing in the fields, locating where the deer bedded down the night before, and searching for treasure inside the old barn. Throughout the activities the senses were engaged with the sights, and the smells, like the musty smell in the old barn, but it was in the sounds that I found comfort.
The insects would hum a rhythm in the tall grasses, and often sit in silence as you grew close. The cows would call out as they fed in the nearby field. On the rare occasion that a car passed by on the road down the hill, the sound of it floated up to where we played.
One of my most favorite sounds was when a thunder storm approached. My dad would often sit on the porch with me and my brother. We would watch for the lightning and then count the seconds until we heard the boom of the thunder. When the rain finally approached the farm house I would listen as it was fall against the windows of the house. Comforted by the rhythm the raindrops played.
As an adult I don’t live in a farm house, but I still gain pleasure in many of those same sounds. Often very early in the morning, before many of gotten out of bed, I’ll awake to the sound of a train as it carries it freight on the tracks miles from my house. I frequently hear not only the whistle but the clickety-clack as it makes it way down the track.
Waking to the sounds of the birds is one of my favorite things. They sound so joyful, I can’t help but smile. And although I don’t have cows down the road from me, I do hear the barks of the neighborhood dogs. Finding the sounds that comfort you, maybe a lullaby from your childhood, the sound of the ocean waves or even a nickname you had earlier in life can bring a sense of calmness and relaxation and a smile.
What sounds do you find comforting?