I’m part of the headphones generation. I rarely travel anywhere without a set of them somewhere about my person. I have multiple pairs of them, there’s the ones I wear when I want to cancel out the rest of the world, there’s another pair I wear when it’s important to hear some level of background noise. When I work from home there’s nearly always music playing.
All of this noise – but I’m not really listening.
Recently I’ve been trying to learn how to listen, really listen.
Listen to the humming sound that my home makes when no-one is home. Hearing the central heating awaken and go back to sleep. There’s always a click from the radiator in the kitchen a few seconds after it starts up.
Listen to the rustling sound that the hawthorn hedge at the bottom of my garden makes when it’s windy. And when it’s really windy the sound of next-doors silver birch rubbing against the fence between the two gardens.
Listen to my breathing (panting) as I cycle to work. Hearing how it changes from street to street and hill to hill.
Listen to the different tone of my footsteps as I walk around the woods. Squelch, squelch, tramp, tramp, squelch (at the moment).
Listen to the rhythm of my fingers on the keyboard as I type. And the click of the mouse as I run it around the desk.
It’s amazing what you can hear when you listen. I’ve been trying to savour this mundane sounds.
I have to be honest though, the sounds of the washing machine still drives me mad.
If listening sounds like a terribly dull thing to you perhaps this talk will inspire and challenge you:
I love this time of year when the trees have dropped their leaves and have exposed their skeletons.
If you look through my photostream on Flickr you’ll find a multitude of pictures that either have them as the central feature or use them to frame the scene. I’ve created a set for them just to see how many there are.
I think it’s the intricacy that they expose from trunk to bow from bow to branch and from branch to stick and twig. Each one of them constructed in a unique and fascinating way. In the summer you can only really see the leaves on the outside, while these are also wonderful, there’s something fascinating about seeing the skeleton.
Sometimes I look at a particular tree and ponder the reason that made a particular branch take the route that it’s taken. Whatever caused it to bend and climb in that particular way? Why did that bow shoot off in that direction?
At other time I wonder about the people who’ve climbed a particular set of bows. I think about the history that this skeleton has seen. I image which route would be best to scale the heights. Every now and then I decide that it’s time to climb myself.
These skeletons are also the promise of a season yet to come. They may be skeletons now, but soon a story of new life will start to unfold. These woody branches will soon be heavy laden with leaves and even fruit. The birds will become more active and build their nests. Eggs will be laid and chicks fledged. As time goes on, of course they will be returned to there skeletal state.
These trees go through a cycle and they know what to be doing in which season. You don’t see a tree full of leaves in the winter, and a skeletal tree in the summer is a dead tree. The trees seem quite comfortable with this, they aren’t constantly trying to fight the elements like we do. They know the rhythm of the seasons and how to live within it.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
This little video does a wonderful job of showing the cycle of the seasons.
Every super-market that I go into has a generic version of the chocolate digestive, but none of them quite make the grade. They’re just biscuits, there’s something about a McVitie’s Chocolate Digestive that lifts it above the others.
Sitting in my home office look out as the rain gently washes the snow into a grey mush of sludge and ice my heart is warmed by a cup of coffee and a McVitie’s Chocolate Digestive. There is something wonderfully homely about the taste of a McVitie’s Chocolate Digestive. I’ve eaten them all of my life and I suppose that the smell, the taste, even the look of them connects me with periods in my life long since forgotten.
I know that some people regard a dunked chocolate digestive as the pinnacle of culinary excellence, but I’m a purest, if something is delightful on its own, why add to it.
Sue makes a wonderful Bonoffee Pie with chocolate digestives as the base. Wonderful as this is, there’s something in me that feels that this is a waste of perfectly good biscuits.
McVitie’s Chocolate Digestives – a British tradition that we should be proud of and a blessing I am privileged to be able to participate in.
The only problem is – one never seems to be enough.