Saturday, June 16, 2018

The sound of silence

Monday was a beautiful day. An early June “cold-ish front” pushed through, temperatures outside were so pleasant that staying inside didn’t seem lawful, and, well, I just like Mondays.

Mondays are new beginnings – they’re fancy cars you finally get a chance to drive; they’re new stories you can’t wait to read; they’re piñatas that are just begging to be whacked; they’re new hiking trails to explore, leading who knows where, and do we really care? Hopefully not.

So with all that in mind, I decided to head out to Town Lake, eat my lunch under a shade tree and enjoy the beautiful day – but I only got as far as the downtown square. As I was driving past the courthouse, I heard something I hadn’t heard in a long time; something that was so unexpected that I turned into a parking spot and decided to eat my lunch right then and there.

I heard silence.

At some point back in time (I don’t know when, and I’m not sure anyone else knows either) someone decided to put speakers on the courthouse and fill the downtown area with music. Not a bad idea for the day – fill the empty space with nonstop music like at a shopping mall or Wal-Mart, giving downtown visitors something “snappy” to shop to – but what the “town elders” gave up in exchange was the very thing that makes being outside so spectacular:

The silence.

Of course with all the motion, commotion and locomotion going around and around downtown we could argue that the area is not really silent, but it definitely has its own symphony of sounds that I believe is worth a listen – and since I had the time and opportunity to, I did.

The first thing I noticed while sitting on a bench downtown were the birds calling their own hoedown starting with a promenade left, circle right, swing your girl till morning light. The little birds flew up, then down, and around they went all over town whistling their own arrangement of some Duran, Duran song they had probably heard way too often and much too long, but they made it their own – and it was worth a listen.

Birds are like trumpets and piccolos. Easy to hear, the stars of the show. But just below their warbling, I heard a low rumble of heavy truck tires passing by like a long timpani roll imitating thunder off in the distance and getting further and further away, and then a car started up somewhere like a snare drum roll, just for effect. Seeing that the percussion section was all accounted for (except for a cymbal crash I hoped would make it’s appearance in some other concerto), I headed for Jo’s for a cool drink and to stretch my legs. And everything I heard along the way, was worth a listen.

The walking tap on the sidewalk of a couple’s heels were flamenco dancers baring their souls for all to see; a car’s horn tapped in frustration became a beginner trumpet player starting his solo two measures too soon; another car’s stereo was a marching band’s crescendo and decrescendo as it passed by on parade; and snippets of muted conversations were lyrics sung in French, not really understandable, but worth a listen.

Finally, the sound of car tires softly echoing from the buildings across the way were like gentle waves coming ashore on some sandy tropical beach; and when the bell tower rang the half hour, if a large double-masted schooner had sailed around the corner of West 1st Street and Madison, I would not have been surprised.

I packed up the remains of my lunch, headed back to the office, and started jotting down the beginnings of what you’ve just read. I tried so hard not to sound like a crazy old man sitting on his porch yelling at the next door neighbors to turn down their stinkin’ music, but I am getting older and it’s somewhat expected.

Anyways, if you’re ever downtown and the courthouse music is off, grab yourself something to drink, find a shady place to sit, and enjoy the concert.

It’s well worth a listen.

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