Starting off in the pre-dawn morning offers a number of benefits, many of which I’ve enumerated before. Of the most valued is the (relative) quiet that surrounds me on my walks.
Not totally quiet, mind you, for even at these early hours there are delivery trucks, early risers and various non-man made sounds about me.
When I wear earphones, I tend to be more visually alert, knowing that the music may distract me from or obscure sounds I should be paying attention to. As such, I spend more time looking twice before crossing, peeking behind me for traffic and various other safe-than-sorry actions.
During my current “silent” walks, I find myself using my ears as my “early warning system”, especially behind me. In the (relative) quiet, I hear when vehicles may be approaching. I listen to nature’s awakening, free (scrambling squirrels, bustling birds, chirping crickets) and partnered (jangling collars, shuffling feet).
It’s an intriguing change of senses, mostly by necessity (the street lamps are helpful, but not overly revealing) in the time before the sun finally rises high enough to be useful (about 30-45 minutes in).
My non-musical walks will likely end soon, though. I’ve used the parenthetical “relative quiet” because the heightened hearing also emphasizes the considerable noise generated by cars as they pass on the road.
Many of you may not fully realize how loud vehicles are. You may ride with the windows up or may not notice over the sound of your own engine or wind noise. Vehicles are loud. Not because of their engines, but because of the noise created from the tires rolling on the pavement (literally, “when the rubber hits the road”).
Try this sometime: stand outside near some driving cars and listen. You’ll hear the loud noise (I can’t quite define it…whine? whoosh? swish?) as it draws near, passes and drives away. It is much louder than the sound of the engine (except for the out-of-service or intentionally altered vehicles).
Part of my long walk takes me alongside a large north-south road (you may know it – U.S. 441). It’s a six lane highway which, by the time I get there, has considerable traffic on it. Don’t doubt for a moment the amount of noise created by the opposite three lanes on the other side of the median strip – the sound of all those tires on the streets is really that loud.
Unique and enjoyable as these past two weeks have been in exploring my hearing sense, that vehicular noise is terrible. I’ve not done any research to determine if the word “deafening” applies, but annoying certainly fits the bill. And, as my walks get longer, more and more vehicles will be filling the roads.
So, I’ll be putting my earphones back on shortly, which will require my ears to return to their proper place on my head.