By Cathy Johnson
Mother Nature has thoughtfully filled the season of autumn with sound but maybe it’s all so familiar we don’t even realize it. Humans have added their fair share to the symphony, but let’s take a listen and see what we find.
One of the surest signs of fall is the honking of the geese as they travel to their winter homes. The larger Vees provide quite the cacophony as they move gracefully overhead. Every once in a while a lone goose or pair flies by, honking their desire to find the bigger group it seems.
The most prevalent sounds come courtesy of the brilliantly colored leaves that provide the visual backdrop of these last several weeks. As they begin to change and fall to the ground, the rustling sound of the leaves still on the trees also changes. And when they tumble to the ground, they also provide sounds. The skittering dry leaves that blow along the streets in the fall breezes have a unique sound only heard in the fall. So too is the whoosh-whooshing noise that people, especially children, make when walking through piles of leaves in the yard or on the sidewalk. The driest of the leaves give off a crunch-crunch sound as they crumble to pieces beneath our feet.
Sometimes the falling leaves sound like rain as they cartwheel fast and thick to the ground. I’ve been fooled before by that sound when giving a listen outside to learn whether I need raingear for a morning run.
Humans dealing with the leaves provide their own sounds. For many years it was the sound of the leaf rake, first the metal one which provided an unwelcome screech as it encountered sidewalk or driveway while moving the leaves. The newer plastic ones scrape the cement, but the noise is much more muted.
Whoosh-whoosh go both types of rake. Rustle-crunch go the leaves.
Nowadays, the most prevalent sound on weekends in fall is the persistent whine of the mechanical leaf blower. It could be quite a symphony if they all were running at the same time and in tune. Each one in our neighborhood seems to have its own unique pitch.
And last, but not least, is the audio backdrop for a Saturday afternoon work session in the yard: a Ferris State University football game. Depending on how far you are from Top Taggart Field, it can almost be like you are there. Last Saturday’s game, an important rivalry one, brought out a huge crowd which could be heard without the PA system. It’s probably similar in many college towns all across America.
And then there are the folks that have their own soundtrack coming from their earbuds when they are out and about. I understand it, but look at all that they are missing. Is fall the most sound-full season of all?