Like most places, I think I’ve come to believe, you have to be there to experience it. Like nothing really authentically describes how it was, or how you felt, being there at that time. It’s like touching air or feeling your heart racing in there. I’m coming off sounding like I was just on the moon. No. It’s not the barren majesty of the heavens. It’s incredibly full of life and you see it for miles. You can feel it in the earth beneath your feet, giving way under them because there’s just been a good soaking. You can smell it in the air because one of the cows has just dropped a load, and the wind has ruffled the pine trees. Leaves are falling. You can taste it in the water that gushes unheeded below you from one of the many hills on which you’re standing. The steady, hypnotic flow of it is something one can sit there and listen to as you stare off into the distance. There are little green shrubs and tall trees; mud and grass thatched huts that you can see, dotting the hills. Far away the heads of herds are bent to the dark green ground and the apex of the hills have lone trees against a background of blue and white. The sound of what could be a giant saw comes at you from a distance as you look at the terrains with precise demarcations of jade and brown. You smell wood smoke.
Cold breezes will slap your face and raise the hairs on your arms and legs but you will be reluctant to leave because everything is so peaceful. The birds above you sound like they are arguing with each other but you think it’s very harmonious when you listen. They are probably having a fight about whose turn it is to go look for supper. You hear the wind whistle in the trees and breathe in deep. It’s so quiet here. You’re sure that if you try hard enough you can make a song out of the falling leaves and the rushing water and the birds can have centre stage…You take another deep breath. It’s a combination of fresh cow deuce (a strong, nose-tingling mix of grass and milk) and pine leaves, but you breathe in more. Almost like you want to take extra to-go. And you might.
Sunny, divinely so, in the early morning. Achieves a bit of a bite by mid-morning. Then cools down towards evening. You want to find a chair and park yourself at the top of the hill in front of the mud house where the sunset is most visible. Just near the hedges on the left. The bird songs are most discernible then too. The deuce makers come into their own as well. All these compounded with the water makes for a glorious little symphony. The poultry that goes around littering the short green grass with their poop squawk here and there around your feet. The cows are laid down on the slope below you, their lower jaws moving anti-clockwise with the grinding of the cud. Their brown eyes looking blankly back at you as you imitate their movements. One moos at you.
The light from the last rays of the sun throws a magnificent warm shade across the slope on the grass and the trees all around, regardless of how frozen your toes are at the moment you close your eyes and see the image at the back of your eyelids. In all it’s natural glory. No picture could ever get it right. There is just something iridescent about naked nature that you can’t quite get on camera. A fellow has to be there. It’s something you feel more than see.
And as you lay in bed and listen to the rain hit hard upon the aluminium rooftop, not even bothering to be gentle, you realise how beautiful even That is! The utter darkness that you know is outside is punctuated every now and then by far away birds (how late do these things sleep..). And then just quiet. Light but solid quiet. That kind that makes you think about the trees in Lord of the Rings. The nice ones. Because it feels like they are breathing, like something is coming from them. Out of them. That surrounds you in a gentle tap. Molds itself around your person like a blanket. Blissful quiet.
If you do not count the crickets!
It always seemed funny to me how science says that the sounds that crickets make at night is actually them calling out for mating partners. The last thought that flies through your mind as you fall into sleep with the sound of the rain, is how crazy it is that slutty behaviour is indiscriminate all across the biological board as it were.