Simon and Garfunkel penned a song many years ago called The Sound of Silence. The song lamented the sound of silence, comparing it to “a cancer that grows.” But for me, the sounds of silence are something I treasure about living in the mountains, and especially at our home here in Nederland. With all the noise of the cities of the plains below where I frequently spend time, coming home to the peace and quiet instantly destresses me and provides solace to my soul.
As I was out walking the dogs this evening on the dirt road in our neighborhood this evening, I noticed the rustling of the Aspen leaves “quaking.” Their oval leaves shimmer back and forth, producing a rustling sound as they quiver. As I walked further down the road, I heard the sounds of evening birds chirping along with the crunching of my sneakers along the gravel road. Later as we neared North Boulder Creek, I heard the rushing of the creek. For me, these are the comforting sounds of living in my mountain home. But my evening was more remarkable for what I didn’t hear, which is all too common for most city dwellers and suburbanites. I didn’t hear the revving of a car engine, the squeal of brakes, or the radio blaring. Nor did I hear voices, music, or the sound of a lawn mower, other familiar “city” sounds.
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Off the beaten path”? Looking this up on the Internet, it is defined as a secluded place not very well known to the general public. For most of our friends and family, the consider our home to be off that main path. The road we live on is so remote that it is not even maintained by the county, and is considered private. To even maintain the road, the residents that liver here actually pay into a fund at our HOA to ensure it is periodically graded and cleared of snow during the winter months.
What I’ve noticed about living in a place that is so quiet, isthe sounds of nature stand out that much more. I think about a time earlier in my life when I lived in the city of San Francisco. The sounds of the city surrounded me and I learned to adapt to hearing them 24 hours a day. Though I know there must have been birds chirping, leaves rustling, winds blowing while I was living there, I don’t recall ever hearing them. Instead I remember the sounds of traffic, sirens, people yelling.
But here in Nederland, the sounds of nature ring out. The first Thanksgiving we lived here, the sounds of the famous downsloping Nederland winds woke us up one night with the whooshing. Earlier in the summer, as we were sleeping with our bedroom windows open, we heard a ungodly screeching sound, like a woman in tremendous pain, but innately we knew it wasn’t human. It went on and on that night, even closing the windows didn’t entirely block out that inhuman sound. After we talked with our neighbors, we found out a bob cat had been seen near our house, and deduced it was probably the sound of two cats mating.
Not everyone cares for the environs of silence — we’ve had friends from the big city of Chicago who say they find the silence unnerving and have difficulty sleeping. Our neighbors across the street recently moved to Boulder, citing the main reason for moving that it was too quiet and too isolated up here. When I think about my previous life in San Francisco, where I got used to sirens and traffic all light, I can understand how the quiet of the mountains would seem a bit uncomfortable. But for me, as I drive home each night, I treasure the quiet, as it wraps around me like a blanket comforting me each evening.