Silence: The Source and Meaning of Silence in Nature

Silence
Glacier National Park

Silence in Nature

Peace and quiet. We link the two quite often, don’t we? But sometimes, silence means danger is at hand. I was out for a hike over the Labor Day (US holiday) weekend and once again pondered how silence dominates the natural world. The undergrowth of the forest was like a maze, and I made my way to the backwaters of the Alabama reservoir. Cautiously I approached. I’ve hiked in grizzly country, in mountain lion country and in black bear country. This time, though, I was in gator country.

Silence
American Alligator

I had seen a couple of American Alligators the day before. One was about eight feet long, and I have no desire to end up between those jaws. Did you know alligators can run on land? I mean, they can get up off their bellies and run. I’d love a few photographs, but I prefer not to gain them at the cost of an arm or leg.

The first things I noticed when I got to the water were the telltale fallen trees and stumps gnawed to a point. I stepped on a branch and frightened the beaver lounging outside its lodge. So much for getting a photograph of one of those magnificent creatures. Then a Great Egret rose into the air from not too far away and let out its loud croak, a warning call for all to hear. Silence resumed.

Silence
Osprey

Why is Nature so Silent?

I know it isn’t absolutely quiet all the time. Go out in the evening and stay until after dark. The crickets and spring peepers are anything but quiet. The sound is nearly deafening at times. But they take the stage for a few hours, then it’s back to silence.

To me, the silence in nature is a thin veil stretched out and held taught by four stones, one at each corner. Two are fear, and two are terror. Prey fears predator, Fish fears Egret, Egret fears alligator. Predator is hungry and therefore is silent. It unleashes its terror in sneak attacks.

I sat in my kayak one morning before sunrise, floating in the middle of a small, secluded lake. The silence was a nurturing respite from a life filled with sound, most of it incomprehensible noise. A duck quacked on the east side of the lake. It quacked again and then ensued a long, sorrowful litany of sounds not often heard from such affable creatures. Predator, probably a fox or a coyote, made off with its prey. The thin veil fell over the place once again. All living things within earshot had learned once more about the true nature of silence.

The hawk floats above the meadow. Its soft feathers whisper as the air brushes past, but the mouse down in the grass can’t hear such a faint sound. It darts here and there collecting seeds. The first warning of danger is not a sound, but an expanding shadow.

 

Silence, Fear and Terror Among Men

Mankind in general has forgotten this aspect of silence. Now only those surrounded by war understand, not the warrior, but the child who hides from those who would sell her into slavery or simply kill him. Cowards with mighty weapons prowl the streets of cities in failed and corrupt nations, seeking the young while they huddle beneath the veil of silence like frightened field mice, listening, hoping, praying the predators will pass them by.

In April 2014, Boko Haram drew international condemnation by abducting more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok town in Borno state, saying it would treat them as slaves and marry them off – a reference to an ancient Islamic belief that women captured in conflict are considered war booty.
— BBC News

Chris Mills

I was born and raised on an Indiana dairy farm, became a Michigander and now travel all over the US as atraveling laboratory tech.I write every day and cover as many genres as I can.Short fiction is my favorite, but I'm dabbling in a longer piece as well.One of my writing guidelines is to be as creative and original as I possibly can be.Sometimes that leads to some strange stuff.

At the end of each of my stories there is a place to sign up to follow me on The Creative Exiles.I invite you to do this so you can be notified each time I post a new story.Thanks for visiting The Creative Exiles website.

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Chris Mills

I was born and raised on an Indiana dairy farm, became a Michigander and now travel all over the US as a traveling laboratory tech. I write every day and cover as many genres as I can. Short fiction is my favorite, but I'm dabbling in a longer piece as well. One of my writing guidelines is to be as creative and original as I possibly can be. Sometimes that leads to some strange stuff. At the end of each of my stories there is a place to sign up to follow me on The Creative Exiles. I invite you to do this so you can be notified each time I post a new story. Thanks for visiting The Creative Exiles website.

5 thoughts on “Silence: The Source and Meaning of Silence in Nature

  • October 19, 2016 at 7:02 PM
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    A poignant write Chris, of the predatory nature of man and life in survival. The difference is that humanity commit such atrocities in the name of greed and power. Some great observations of the natural world and the balance that in nature is required. We, humanity have created such imbalance with our pursuits and today whats going on is a reflection of that negativity. Well penned and expressed my friend.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2016 at 7:13 PM
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    Welcome back Chris. It is good to hear from you. This is a beautiful piece on nature. The memories you have of so many different parts of the country must be astounding, with each area having its most fearsome predator. Well done and so enjoyable to read.

    Your photos are beautiful.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2016 at 9:59 PM
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    Tony, nice to see you again here on The Creative Exiles. Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2016 at 10:02 PM
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    HI Phyllis, thank you for stopping by to read these musings about the world around us. There are subtle truths to be learned for those who will listen.

    Reply
  • October 20, 2016 at 3:54 AM
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    These were wonderful reflections while observing nature and the meanings of silence, also your observations of mankind and the cowardice of terrorists and the like. Good to see a new post from you Chris. Welcome back.

    Reply

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