THE SOUNDS OF THE VILLAGE: A WRITING EXERCISE
The following came out of one of the Eight Fires workshops through Dark Mountain.
We were prompted to spend time with water in celebration of Lughnahsad and to consider a gift for our local water.
While spending time at the river with a friend she remarked that her baby slept well to the "sounds of the village" for example when her sister visited and there was much conversation in the house her baby slept right through it.
The Sounds of the Village
Six weeks ago it was a 100 degree solstice evening.
We gathered at a friend's backyard in town for songs and a bonfire.
The sounds of the neighborhood were mostly air conditioners humming; it was quiet otherwise.
A few distant birds flew over.
Then we brought the night alive with some songs and a small fire as it got dark.
Overcast and very unseasonably cool now, on Lughnahsad.
A few mythical, big fat August rain drops fall.
My friend and I walk the long trail to the beach both with our babies strapped to our chests. That dry heat smell of all the resins of the plants is notably absent. The yellow Saint John's Wort still blooms and the yellow goat heads crowd the trail and make me walk carefully.
We pass the four sisters, a big fragrant, four-trunked eucalyptus then crest a small sandy hill and notice: the snag is gone.
The river channel is very braided here; dotted by islands. There has been, for the years I’ve been coming here at least, a cluster of fallen branches about halfway from the beach to Otter Island. That cluster was low to the water and frequented by birds. One single branch reached very high above the water. This was THE snag. And it was gone. Egrets, Kingfishers, Acorn Woodpeckers, all took turns taking up this perch each time we visited.
I would like to gift this water a new snag. I don’t have a snag to give though and our other friends and family start to arrive, some rolling up on bikes or walking in with armfuls of kids and food.
My almost-four year old arrives on the back of his dad’s bike. The water is high and cold today. Not a function of nature; we’re in a severe drought but this increased water must come from the dams up river.
The high water has eroded away some of the banks and my kiddo turns sideways to walk along the now-narrow trail between a thicket at the river. He knows this spot well and points out the places where things have shifted. Rivers are always moving, the driftwood, debris and all the banks and islands ever changing; but that snag had really seemed like a fixture here!
We spread out our blankets. The river is quiet, but the babies fall asleep to the sounds of the village. Two toddlers fight over a basket of cookies; adults talk and laugh, dishes clink as food is unpacked. A basket of Lughnahsad biscuits appear and we each take one while sharing thoughts of what we’ve harvested in our lives this season.
These sounds of the village are sounds that don't wake babies. It helps them sleep. I remember this as a child. Being in a cozy home, my parents and other adults playing cards, the sounds of their laughter and voices lulling me to sleep across the room knowing I’d later be carried to the car and then to my bed.
The sound of the village is soothing to babies and I imagine to rivers too.
I'm happy to have a few distant pictures of the snag from over the years: