One Square Inch of Silence

Do you ever have days when the world is just too damn loud?  When you walk outside and feel bombarded with noise: street sweepers, fire engines, jack hammers, babies crying, subway rumblings, a man selling “ice-cold water one dollar,” a teenager rapping out loud to his ear buds. The other day the world was full of noise and I literally had to plug my ears for a moment. Everything felt amplified.

But this morning I had one of those rare New York moments of quiet. Granted it was early morning (Construction on Atlantic Yards, the behemoth stadium being built around the corner from my house, begins at 7:30am) but I listened to the birds jabbering outside my window and smiled.

In 2005, “sound tracker,” Gordon Hempton, declared one square inch of silence in Olympic State Park, Washington.  Efforts have been made to keep this one square inch (47° 51.959N, 123° 52.221W) pollution free, by rerouting planes, foot traffic, car traffic, and letting quiet rein.  Orion Magazine did a great story on the project a few years ago.

All of this is to say that lately I have been obsessing about quiet sounds.  What are your favorite quiet sounds?

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3 thoughts on “One Square Inch of Silence

  1. Nina! I have loooong wanted to visit this place since you told me about it. I was actually just at Crater Lake in OR, and they are doing research into the sonic landscape there and assessing how manmade sounds are affecting the wildlife. They set up microphones in different areas of the park for 30 days straight, recording owls, bugs, coyotes, birds, wind, airplanes, motorcycles… In some cases, they recorded 6 airplanes in one hour. We camped out, but luckily, we didn’t hear anything bipedal prowling outside our tent.

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