by Roxanna Coldiron
“Nature Interrupts the Cityscape”
Revised essay excerpt from Sound Culture, The New School, Fall 2013
I sit on the front steps and listen as the evening takes over my neighborhood. An abandoned middle school masks the voices of children who play tag around its foundation. Every few minutes, their laughing and screaming escapes the invisible sound field surrounding them and draws my attention to what they are doing. I can’t see them very well because the ground dips, but I can see children occasionally running up and down the stairs of the school toward the same level as the street.
An SUV races past me and screeches around a corner. Its sharpness is a huge contrast to the echo-y, barely audible sounds of the children. The expressway that passes by the end of the street reaches my ears. Sirens rush past and are swallowed into the trees; their screaming diminishes into the distance.
Music from dad’s Oldies station seeps through the garage door and crawls along the ground toward the dog sniffing at the grass strip by the road. I don’t know whose dog this is, but I hope he doesn’t bite. He ignores me and sniffs the grass. The ground catches the sounds of his panting, but it still sneaks out the side of his mouth.
Crickets grow louder as the sun dips lower, and the fading light mimics the drowning effect of the crickets’ song. I barely hear the children anymore. Maybe they went home? There are no breaks in the cricket chorus, and I want to go inside. As much as I love nature sounds, the crickets pierce my brain with their cacophony and make everything seem less important, less noticeable, inaudible in an open space that is otherwise only interrupted by trees and two-story buildings. 🌺🌸🌺🌸🌺
Now it’s your turn! Find somewhere interesting to be that has plenty of sound. Close your eyes and listen. What stories do the sounds tell you? Can you describe the sounds so that anyone reading it can feel like they’re with you?