Sitting in the back yard resting between gardening jobs it is easy to notice the changing sounds of the season. One often doesn’t think of seasonal sounds, but there are many, easy to discern in the absence of cars, lawn mowers and other mechanized devices. I am lucky in that we live on a quiet cul-de-sac. There are many moments when electrically and 3-cycle powered machines are not polluting the area with noise; cars are infrequent.
The first thing I realize is that it is a good year for acorns. A sporadic drizzle of acorns is heard in their rustling of the leaves that did not compost down from last fall. It is a shallow noise that becomes deeper with the season and the thickness of the leaves in the woods. The same difference in sound is true for the squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about looking for food to eat.
When the wind hits the leaves, they sound a little brittle as they are getting ready to make their final leap into the heavens. And with each puff of wind, a few take that journey. We have yet to hit that inflection point in the season when a puff of wind creates a blanket of falling leaves that bounce off each other. But the wind is pruning the dead branches delivering occasional cracks and a soon-to-be-heard ground thump.
The birds have started their migration so ironically fewer are staying around the feeders; the warblers have arrived from up north. Hawks still circle around on the thermals sending out screeches to announce their positions. Geese have started to move south, honking their way past our house.
The chill in the air has quieted the bug population. Bees are still buzzing around, pollinating flowers but in the mornings there are few waiting for the air to warm. Most of the bugs are silent, the grasshoppers are gone or at least not in range of hearing.
There are some noises that I contribute. The most consistent one now and for months to come is the splitting of wood. Each log is often first split with a steel wedge so a metal-on-metal ring continues until the wood separates. Then the maul takes over with a series of hollow thwacks until the log (or me) is finished. Then it starts all over.
A dry snapping noise accompanies picking up branches in the yard and piling them for winter kindling. A dry snip accompanies my pruning of the dead blackberry and raspberry brambles that have exhausted their fruits for the season. There are a few left, though most will never ripen. I put one in my mouth and it delivers an uncharacteristic crunch.