Sources of Sounds of Silence

By on 13 October, 2010 in City services, Mark Montoya with 0 Comments

Can anyone tell me how much unwanted noise we have to hear in a day? I have become so accustomed to traffic noise, appliances, television and so forth, that I just recently learned how rare it is to hear nothing.

On Sunday,  silence awakened me. As I awoke, all I could hear was the occasional mockingbird, a starling’s cry, or the cooing of a dove. Oh! It’s great living in this old place, I thought. But, then the silence disturbed me. There were no cars speeding up the street, no ‘white noise’ as they call it. Just birds singing. It was an amazing thing.

Had a natural disaster occurred? Our entire neighborhood was in silence. How could this have happened? I could see no people anywhere. What had happened?  Had there been a massive alien abduction and overnight plague?  Had I been left behind during the “second coming?” The event was startling, yet so peaceful.

I raised my bedroom window and looked out. Nothing to be heard. I went to the front of the house to take a look. Then, here it came roaring toward my house from down the street. The power company truck had come to the rescue and stopped immediately in front of my house. I walked outside and there, only a few feet from my front door, I saw what has caused this short but peaceful moment of silence to occur.

At my feet lay a squirrel, cooked as if he belonged in a stew.  Not a hair on his body, not even on his rat-like tail.

The first thought that came into my mind was how much money the power company spends to come to our rescue every time one of these creatures is just trying to get from one place to another. This squirrel thought that he could avoid the perils of crossing the street on foot, but then, BANG! he was gone. Perhaps he was going to meet a friend for lunch, or on his way to check on his family. This was for me to go sit in my garden and ponder the life of a squirrel.

Post script by Sandra Nickel:

Our neighbors outside Midtown may have underground utilities and all the constancy that brings — hardly ever a power outage. But for us who live in and love Midtown, “fried squirrels” and frequent power failures are just the natural consequence of one our most beloved assets — trees!

The same day the squirrel died so suddenly (and loudly, as Mark reports), I snapped a photo of a newly deceased old friend — the tree across the street that must have been among the oldest and largest in the Garden District. Weeks before, it had for the third time dropped a huge branch in the yard and out into Lawrence Street, blocking traffic and scaring the bejeebers out of my neighbors.

We all hated to see it go and mourn its passing. We look forward to the City’s quickly replacing it with another sturdy specimen so that, before too long, we will again have squirrels scampering among its branches (and, at their own peril, out onto the adjacent power lines).

Mark Montoya, the Practical Gardener, is a Montgomery native who first learned gardening from his father. He has designed, planted and nurtured gardens in our city’s neighborhoods — both old and new – for twenty years.

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