Outdoors

Island Inspiration

Savoring the sounds of silence

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The relentless struggle to keep pace with early 21st century America had depleted my spirits and knocked my usually stalwart inner-navigation system so far off course I was recently forced to spend three days of semi-solitude in a one-room cabin just to right my ship and get sailing again. 

Although I was able to stay connected to the outside world through a serviceable telephone line, the only other pieces of technologically advanced equipment in the rustic seaside abode were a wood stove, turntable and bamboo bookcase stuffed full of eclectic reading material. 

Except for reading, writing and listening to some premium vinyl cuts my primary source of audio-visual entertainment came from observing and absorbing whatever illuminative phenomena the natural world had to throw at me.  

The spacious front porch offered a premium vantage point to while away the hours watching hazy sunbeams poke through multiple layers of clouds and scatter like burning embers upon the heaving swells of Rosario Strait. 

During the course of one vigorously blustery, partly sunny day I was thrilled to note that the snow-glazed face of Orcas Island’s Mt. Constitution managed to change color no less than five times, going from gray to blue to green to purple to black as time marched on and meteorological conditions evolved. 

Inevitably, the absence of detectable human activity on this far-flung stretch of shoreline generated a level of tangible quietude that helped clear my mind, calm my nerves and intensify my ability to hear even the most unobtrusively mundane audible effects with clarity so acute even my own thoughts became amplified.

When an unseen raven chased me out of bed way too effing early one morning with its incessant cawing and clucking, I glared up into the tree canopy and shouted, “Thank you!”

When a pair of bald eagles initiated their raucous aerial courtship high in the treetops above me, I grabbed the biggest pair of binoculars available and made a concerted effort to ogle as many explicit maneuvers as those two lovebirds hazarded to deliver.  

When a gang of screaming seagulls started rioting over a coveted crab carcass down on the beach, I reclined on the piazza and spectated every push and pull of this contentious anarchic eruption. 

When a lone Spotted Towhee materialized in dense underbrush, I had to chase an overstimulated house cat away so I could continue to behold its rufous, white-bellied form darting at seemingly impossible angles through seemingly impenetrable ocean spray branches without fear of the poor thing being eviscerated.

When this low-tech getaway finally drew to a close, I boarded a ferry and headed back to the mainland with my vitality and compassion for all living creatures fully restored.

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