04 July 2015

Another Loss for the Quiet

As anyone who listens often to the natural soundscape knows, airplane noise is becoming almost unavoidable. Even in remote areas. The effect on wildlife who depend on a clear audio channel for communication remains largely unknown. My opinion, shared by almost no one I know, is that the only solution is for us all to fly a lot less, to stay put, and to localize our economies so we are not shipping stuff every which way. Care to join me in that?

From the Acoustic Ecology Institute Blog:

A new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) effort to modernize air traffic flow around major cities is ignoring the chance to do slight re-routing that would minimize air traffic over dwindling areas of natural quiet.

Read more...


Timeless Thrush

The very first thing this mind wants to do when it wakes up in the morning is to know what day it is. Why does it not linger in the timeless state of awareness for a little while, before insisting on remembering when and who it is?

This morning it was awakened by the song of a wood thrush. The song was made up of five phrases repeated regularly, the only variation being the entry point, sometimes the second phrase, sometimes the third, usually the first. Toward the end of the song session, the order began to fall apart, become more random. But before the mind became aware of all of that, it was simply listening to the song without analysis, in a half sleep.

The very first thought was, "What day is it?"

A pause.

Then, "I don't know what day it is. Do I have to get up? Do I have something I have to do?" No "I" in the first thought, but already in the second thought "I" have come into it and become a bit panicky.

Pause. The mind is waking up. The thrush is still singing, not heard so well now that "I" am engaged in figuring out what day it is.

It comes: Saturday, July 4. I could lie in bed continuing to listen to the thrush, but it is too late. The mind is awake. It is picking up things it was thinking about as it fell asleep. It is thinking about what needs to be done. It is generating anxiety about some of those things. It is recreating its sense of self, as it does every morning, sometimes in a moment, sometimes a bit more slowly.

Why not just lie in bed for a while, listening to the thrush without thought, analysis, comment or question? Why do I need, so urgently, to know what day it is, to know what needs to be done, to know who I am? But the deed is done, the quiet listening is over, the thrush is singing, the song is analyzed, but no longer is it well heard. Is the mind now awake, or did being awake last only a few moments before it fell into the trance of itself? Meanwhile, the thrush is still singing.

05 May 2015

Right Whales in Cape Cod Bay

Large numbers of north Atlantic right whales, more than 60, have been seen in Cape Cod Bay in recent days. They normally appear in large numbers in mid April, so like everything else in New England this spring they are running a couple weeks late. But in this case late is definitely better than never. It's a sign that the population is probably faring okay despite the lack of food in their traditional summer grounds in the Bay of Fundy, and a sure sign that spring has finally come to New England.

Articles:

http://wellfleet.wickedlocal.com/article/20150502/NEWS/150509592

http://www.capecodtoday.com/article/2015/05/05/224342-Numbers-grow-whales-continue-feast-Cape-Cod-Bay

An almost-real-time map of right whale sightings:

http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/psb/surveys/