This past week I spent three days alone on the North Shore of Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world (by area, not volume). It was three days of writing, hiking, and generally being reclusive. And it was fabulous!
This is a trip I try to make once each year, in different seasons, and in different contexts, but this was the first time I made the trip alone. One of the things that really struck me on this trip was the sounds of nature. I believe it was the traveling and hiking alone that made it possible to listen, really listen, to what was going on around me. And it was the sounds that stayed with me.
Hiking up the Temperance River Gorge the sound of the river was in my left ear, the sound of the woods in my right. The river's voice rages ever angrier as the trail climbs in elevation towards the High Falls. As the trail diverged away from the river and deeper into the woods the voice of the river fades leaving only the chorus of birds and the sounds of my own foot falls.
Hiking back down stream, past my starting point to the lake, the voice of the Temperance mellows into the jazzy sound of a stream stumbling over stones, a sound very similar to the soft chorus of cottonwood leaves in a breeze.
Back at my cabin I was able to listen to the sounds of the lake. On the first night it was the rhythmic bass of the waves as they reached the shore with a swoosh. This sound is fairly typical of The Big Lake. On the second day, the lake was almost completely still, quieter than I've ever seen it, and the waves had the sound of a kiss as the last bits of water spilled gently over the stones.
Each morning I was awakened by the insistent caw of just one crow. And each night I was serenaded to sleep by the throaty opera of an unseen bull frog.
When you are quiet and listening, really listening, the sounds of nature are there for you to hear and they are beautiful.