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THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE in Orion Magazine by Lisa Wells

WHEN I WAS a sixteen-year-old naturalist in training, we were instructed to sit in the forest and wait for the return of something called “the baseline symphony.”

The baseline symphony was the music of a landscape at ease—the confluence of insect, bird, and animal song, underscored by wind and water. The dynamics of that symphony shifted as day progressed into night. There were brief caesuras, but it did not fall silent for long except in the case of a disturbance. Silence signaled the onset of weather events, a stalking predator, the encroachment of loggers, or the footfalls of a teenager with punk rock looping loudly in her brain. As I picked down the forest path, an unnatural quiet fell, broken only by the occasional bird alarm. FOR MORE


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