Weekly Writing Challenge: Sounds of Silence

We are always aware of the silence when visitors depart but in the normal course of daily events it goes unnoticed. Visitors make us aware that perhaps we are not quite normal. Everyone expresses surprise that we don’t eat breakfast together. I am more surprised that people even want to eat and start conversing at that time of the morning. Certainly I enjoy going out for breakfast –  but at 1030 or 11 am. Have it double up as lunch. Being an early riser I have the benefit of even more time to myself, in the silence of my thoughts.

In Australia there is no such thing as silence with the clicking of the geckos, the hum of the cicadas, the ribbit of the frogs, the chirping of the birds and the rustle of the breeze in the trees. Aside from the wildlife and natural noises our house is full of its own sounds, the constant drone from the fish tank pumps, the plop of the air bubble exploding on the surface of the water which in turns sends out ripples which splash on hitting the side of the aquarium. Then there is the fridge cutting in and out as the motor operates to keep the inside temperature at its ideal and the cuckoo clock. When I take the dog for his last walk around 10pm and the street is in darkness and, apart from the creatures of the night,the silence is absolute I can hear our cuckoo clock up and down our entire block. I wonder how much the neighbours must hate us for breaking the silence or whether like us they simply don’t hear it.

All these sounds are white noise to us. Our normal backdrop. Silence is the absence of human voice whether it be from the radio, television or sitting opposite you at the table. Everyday we have this silence, unless we have visitors.

In Vanuatu, in our house, we thought we had absolute silence. There were no tweety birds, no traffic, no Australian wildlife. Any birds or wildlife on the island had been eaten and were now rarely seen and less frequently heard. We enjoyed our silence, as silence in Australia can be deafening, until one day a guest told us that they couldn’t sleep for the noise. “What noise?”

“The sound of the sea breaking on the coral reef is so loud” was his response “I’m used to the traffic and the noise of the city but this constant crash just drove me mad.”

We did have an Australian style silence on the farm when we returned to Australia but perhaps a bit too much silence. Most days everyday. Radio National became our company and we listened to it frequently. Unfortunately we often had power outages and periods of total silence. We grew to feel that we could be the last people on the planet and we wouldn’t know it. The silence forced our move when I started work in a town seventy-five kilometres distinct and left my husband to suffer the silence alone.

There was no silence at the shop and we looked forward to our move to our house by the river to gain some solitude. We had no neighbours at our town house as  we had an empty house beside us and then a park. Never again will we live on a river near a park as voices will interrupt your silence at unexpected moments, cutting like a knife through the air. It unnerved us to such an extent that we packed our bags and moved to acreage outside town. That was silent as is living here behind our wall. Until we have visitors.

When visitors come they fall into one of two categories. Those that talk a lot, incessantly almost. These people are usually folk who are naturally talkers but live alone  and once with an audience cannot stop chattering. For me that is exhausting as my husband and I only talk when we have something to say, usually sit in different rooms for breakfast, silent as we read newspapers and books, peruse the computer, write, do our own chores and even our first dog walk is often done in silence, both of us lost in our own thoughts. It is a companionable silence and we are both comfortable with it.

The other type of visitor we get is the self-sufficient visitor who takes themselves off and doesn’t expect us to entertain them 24 hours a day. Even this type of visitor however still wants to share all meals with us. Dinner is always fun. Lunch too can be good but breakfast. My husband disappears. He has his time alone hidden in his cocoon of silence whilst I have to smile, converse and become increasingly angry with him, jealous of his quiet time and annoyed that he doesn’t suffer as well.

Don’t get me wrong. We love having visitors and welcome them with open arms, but a change to my morning routine is a sufferance and I dream of the return to it as silence truly is golden.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-sound-of-silence/

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About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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28 Responses to Weekly Writing Challenge: Sounds of Silence

  1. M. R. says:

    Really nice, Irene – especially for delineating the kinds of silence, and how people respond … But in re your guests and breakfast: for heaven’s sake, woman! – all you have to do is tell them the day before that breakfast is your thinking time (you’re a writer: they’ll accept that), and set it up for them before you go to bed. Give them a time at which you’ll emerge and go from there. DON’T TORTURE yourself!

    Like

  2. This amused me. I don’t blame your husband, or you.

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  3. cjjustice1 says:

    I am not a morning person by choice. I get up earlier if I have to do so for some reason. I go for my silent alone times after everyone else is asleep! We have had similar experiences with “visitors” who fall into the “nonstop talking” type. It always makes me appreciate the normally quiet atmosphere of our home. One interesting adjustment is that my Mom lives with us (since Sept.), and although we LOVE her and having her with us, we do sacrifice quiet sometimes since she is hard of hearing. She’s worth the sacrifice! 🙂 But it is always nice to have more silence again when a movie, radio program, etc. is over. 😉

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  6. You describe so very well about silence. I need my silence in the mornings too. When my kids were small, I went up about one hour before them in the morning, just to enjoy my coffee, the silence and wake up quiet.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Irene

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  9. Glynis Jolly says:

    I think you’d like me as a guest in your home. If I have breakfast at all, it’s in front of the computer. Lunch is pretty much the same way although since Hubby is on 2nd shift, we have our big meal then. I enjoy eating the evening meal with others. I finally have something to say by that time. Although I can talk my head off, it usually needs provoking.

    The only time there is utter silence at my home is in the spring and fall, after the sun goes down, the neighbors are already home, the windows are closed, and the refrigerator isn’t doing its thing. It’s absolutely beautiful.

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  10. Sherri says:

    Loved this post Irene, and I can so relate about needing your silence. I loved your description of the noises in an Australian day, the creatures, the fridge, the fish tank. The sounds of family and all around. I had to laugh about the cuckoo clock though, my ex was obsessed with them. We had two. I have to say, I don’t miss that sound… 😉
    I’ve just put my post out to thank you for The Lighthouse Award, finally, and more to come. Here is the link. Many thanks again Irene:
    http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2014/02/18/shining-a-light-in-a-dark-world-the-lighthouse-award/

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  15. fictionfitz says:

    another excellent piece, doesn’t hurt that I resonate with your sounds of silence.

    Like

  16. litadoolan says:

    Love the use of silence as a blank canvas with the layers of background sound swelling up. Intriguing to picture the visitors who move in and out of the action. Loved this post found it visual and inspiring. I can imagine the sounds too!

    Like

  17. This piece resonated with me, I love silence too, and look forward each day when arriving at home from work, to have a bit of quiet. Luckily my husband loves silence too 🙂

    Like

    • We are lucky aren’t we to have partners whose lifestyle suits our own. I can remember as children my Mum coming home from work in the afternoon and we knew not to disturb her at least until she had her cup of tea and finished the reading the paper. Thanks for commenting

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