It’s very noisy here right now. They are tearing up all the streets around our house, and the staccato roar of the tearing-up machine crowds the air. The neighborhood kids have a great new toy in the yard at the house behind ours: what do you call it? a bouncy castle or some such? Anyhow, half a dozen kids have made up a wonderful game of some kind inside it, which involves shrieking at top volume. I’m happy for their jumping and screeching because it means they are not inside with eyes glued to a screen. There’s a traffic light half a block away, and somebody is stopped at it, with a booming sound system tuned to something incomprehensible and heavily rhythmic. Somewhere at a distance what must be a very heavy, very large aircraft rumbles slowly into flight. The next-door neighbors’ pair of yappy dogs bark continuously in their lonely anxiety.
Yes, it is very noisy here right now.
Let’s disappear all that, all those sources of noise. If we travel back, back, back and further back into time, there is no street tearing-up because there are no streets. If there are children, Indian children, they are busy with their small tasks at this moment.
There are no noise-producing machines, none at all.
If I could lurk here unseen, where my house is, in the way-back time, I might hear Indian women talking, gossiping, with each other over their hearth-work. I would certainly hear some birds—doubtless some of the same species of birds that come to my now-time feeder. Maybe there would be a dog or so, and there would be a bark! now and then. Perhaps at some distance people might be felling a tree, and hollering back and forth, or some might be working together to remove sheets of tree bark, to repair a home, and conversing and planning as they work.
I would hear these small things, falling soft into my ears. If there were a big thunderstorm, of course, I would be assaulted by scary, awesome sound. But other than those times, how many decibels would my ears have to accommodate?
I wonder if the people in those far-distant times had, you know, more acute hearing, unharmed by the NOISE that we in our modern age unceasingly generate? I bet they did. I wish I could listen only to birds, wind, water, and quiet talk, and now and then a clap of thunder…