Sounds surround us

tinkling tree

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) use sound to create a story.

While reading Charli’s post in a motel room, I listened to an amazing chorus of birds in the trees outside. They were mostly magpies, but their song was not quite the same as that of the magpies at home, and I found it entrancing. Not long after, I went for a walk down town and serendipitously came across this beautiful tree sculpture with tinkling metal leaves. Would these sound bites be useful in responding to Charli’s challenge?

I have written about sound in other posts.

In Listen to the sounds I discussed the use of onomatopoeia in children’s picture books, including sounds made by:

  • animals,
  • machinery,
  • musical instruments, and
  • actions.

I listed pictures books that make use of each, and included a flash fiction piece about storm sounds.

In Sounds like … I wrote about the natural sounds made by some of our native wildlife; the beautiful music of our song birds heralding changes in the days and seasons; and other more unusual sounds that may alarm the unfamiliar, like that of the brushtail possum.

I wrote about the unnerving sound of mutton birds in response to Charli’s challenge in that post.

In Writing poetry with children I shared the structure of a sound poem and experimented with using the structure to write poems about other senses in a 99-word flash fiction. I also wrote about these poems on the readilearn blog. Instructions for writing the poems are available in readilearn resources, including here and here.

I wasn’t sure where to go this time, and after much consideration, found myself in more of a contemplative mood, stuck between ideas. I did what I suggest to children when they say they don’t know what to write: just write what’s in your head.

Sounds surround us

The deadline looms and I wonder how to extract a 99-word story from my unwilling brain. Contemplation, false starts, abandoned ideas: the well is dry. But listen! Outside, the day fades. Birds serenade folk hurrying homewards and signal the changing shifts. Soon they’ll sleep and the night time chorus will begin. Inside, the computer hums patiently, waiting to tap out the words. In the kitchen, doors creak: pantry then fridge. Vegetables are scraped and rinsed. Water bubbles on the stove. What joy!  Yes, I get to eat tonight; but my, how the gift of hearing enriches my world. Gratitude.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

44 thoughts on “Sounds surround us

  1. julespaige

    Sometimes it is the simplest of sounds that can bring us comfort.
    I remember waiting to hear the sounds of those I love in sleep-breathing before I drifted off myself. Always go where the prompt leads…you. Forcing the issue would be like chalk on a blackboard and might grate at your own senses. I think having gratitude for sound is complete compliment to the sense of sound. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      That is a shame for your summer. Maybe the kids have to stay inside and read! But it’s fun to get outdoors in the sunlight occasionally. I hope you’re get to do you walks.

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  2. robbiesinspiration

    A great post about sound, Norah. It surrounds us all the time and can be very pleasant or very discordant. I find that it depends on my mood. A particular song may irritate me one day and fill me with joy another. I loved your 99-word piece.

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  3. Pingback: Pages of Sound « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  4. Pingback: Pages of Sound « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  5. Charli Mills

    The comforts of life are sensual, full of sound and sensory detail. An other sounds are odd — your possums outdo the ones in North America! The tinkling tree reminds me of one of the greatest sounds ever — that metallic buzz of hummingbirds. What you did with your flash is clever and sets the stage for sounds on the page this week! Lovely place where you are staying. The hues remind me a bit of Mars.

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  6. Steven

    Excited by the sound of dinner. It sounds like you’ve been conditioned liked Pavlov’s dogs. I also like how you have followed your own advice – look at what it produced.

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  7. thecontentedcrafter

    Tinkly tree and grunting possum went ignored – but those birds brought the puppy running to investigate 🙂 What a selection of sounds and my responses to each were also noted. Love how you wrought your indecision into the final paragraph of this post and the flash itself. A wonderful reminder that even when some sounds are not the ones we might prefer to hear, at least we can hear!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you Pauline and Siddy, for enjoying my post. Those birds were quite unsettling. They had me scooting back to the cabin quick smart. Thanks for your encouragement with the flash. I knew I had to do it, so I just did! 🙂

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  8. Kate

    Norah, you’ve found the most unusual set of sounds to share with us. The one that got me was the ‘tinkling tree’. I believe it takes a special kind of person to be able to live, sleep and work beside one of those. About a week ago, Hubby and I heard an “hoo, hoo” of an owl in one of the trees near our house. Two days the barred owl dropped in and sat on the railing of the deck with me, checking me out. It’s okay, I was checking it out as well. 🙂 He kept blinking at me and turning his head from one side to the other. So cute. Boy, was he big. (Wing span of a barred owl is close to 4 feet.) I love the authenticity of your flash. So many times I find it difficult to extract words from my unwilling brain. However, dinner sounded promising… any leftovers for me?

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    1. Norah Post author

      How wonderful to have an owl grace you with his company on each of two days. What a magnificent bird. I’m sure he was just there to learn from your wisdom.
      The tinkling tree was at the entrance to a small park and the sound didn’t travel far. I don’t think it would disturb anyone in that position, but in others it certainly might.
      Sorry, no leftovers this time. I’ll ensure there’s extras next time. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your encouragement, D. I was pleased my advice worked. Even if I wasn’t happy with the result, I did actually write something. 🙂

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  9. Annecdotist

    Thanks for sharing these sounds, Norah, and your raw flash is great – I think exactly what Charli’s looking for in tuning into the noises around us. Apologies if I’ve mentioned this before but your post reminds me of one of the strangest sounds I’ve ever heard – singing seals and they really do sound like mermaids.
    Hope you’re enjoying your (?) holiday.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your kind words, Anne. I was really disappointed with my efforts so it’s nice to receive your encouraging words. I don’t think you have mentioned the seals before, or I don’t remember anyway. I tried to find some clips to listen to, but couldn’t find anything I considered to be very good. Do you have a suggestion?
      We were just away for the weekend, a couple of hours away hoping to experience a little winter cool. The min was -2 so it was quite a nice change. We haven’t had much of a winter here. Our maximums are high 20s with 30 forecast for tomorrow. I always look forward to a respite from summer’s heat. It hasn’t been a cool winter at all.

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