There's a constant breeze from the south. The house is surrounded by maples. From my bedroom window I look across the road to see the grand old cottonwood and its companion willow. We recently planted two oak trees whose tops are just rising above the sill. The rustling leaves of each tree sounds different, like instruments in an orchestra, blending into a gentle papery symphony.
A cardinal declares his prowess from a high snag, dropping trills and notes to me like royalty dispensing coins. Robins ignore his conceit, sharing their short melody then swooping between trees to offer it again. Other songs are unfamiliar. I listen with my eyes, trying to spot the artists, as if seeing could improve the glory of calls and responses, songs and conversations.
The dogs gallop past, chasing some elusive, possibly imagined, target. Their passage brings to mind the thunder of the racetrack as the horses pass.
Wherever I am the sound of "MOM!" rises like smoke signals, begging an equally loud response. Our family communicates by echolocation. Some days I choose not to respond. The noise moves trainlike around the property, changing tone as the caller approaches or paces in the wrong direction. When not exasperated I find this secretly amusing.
Cyclists and pedestrians chatter past as they tour the scenic byway that runs before the house, gravel crunching, unaware that I watch them from my window. Stanley-dog's voice has shifted to a slightly lower register. He's a talker, responding to queries with grunts and growls. He delights in raising the alarm, bark rising to a yelp that echoes like a gunshot from the trees, or rolling thunder. The passersby startle, then laugh, at his bravado.
An aluminum ladder clanks. A hammer pounds. My husband's expletives pepper down as he works on yet another repair. He clatters down and sighs with satisfaction to cross another fix off the list.
The compressor on one of the refrigerators is failing. In the morning it squeaks and squeals and breathes frosty mist whenever the door is opened. Afternoons it settles to a gentle mechanical snore. I find it somehow endearing, and put off the craigslist search for a replacement.
I close the windows against the chill, and light a fire. It's quiet enough that I can hear the fluttering of flames in the fireplace, like flags on a windy day. The dogs whimper and trot in their sleep. The children lean on me, and I read to them quietly as the sound of their yawns draws me, too, toward sleep.