Bargell: Retraining your ears to hear the sounds of Summit in summer
July 9, 2014
The county rumor mill was abuzz last week with the promise of fireworks displays not to be missed, the best ever, according to folks in the know. Visitors and locals alike were not disappointed in the shows that met every expectation, igniting the sky. I’m not sure what all goes into making certain Independence Day in Summit is capped in grand style, but I do hope the people who make it happen know it is appreciated.
While the show was plenty spectacular, it was the sound accompanying the pyrotechnics that captivated my senses. Each explosion was punctuated with an echo that resonated like thunder, a side effect I hadn’t before noticed. We watched from a spot nearby the take-off zone so the initial booms were brash, followed by a series of rumbles that rolled off the canyon walls and continued even after the sparks disintegrated into the night sky. Later, when I asked the girls about the sound, my youngest captured the feeling best — telling me she could hear it in her heart.
Hiking the next day the trail seemed unusually quiet. It could have been the contrast with the din of the prior evening, but probably it had more to do with the fact I left my headphones at home that day, hoping to steal a few moments of conversation with the family while we walked. I missed my music, however, and it occurred to me that it would be pretty cool if we could just tune into a channel in the universe — guaranteed to play our favorite mix as we trekked, no earphones required.
It didn’t take long to realize that the broadcast already was underway; I just hadn’t tuned into the right station. Subtle at first, the sound of frogs on the prowl started the symphony. Leaves rustled nearby, and the steady sound of my breath added to the opus. As we approached the waterfall the distant crash of the stream signaled we were heading in the right direction. Upon arrival, the water violently colliding on the rocks below provided a perfect crescendo, and I realized the music was always there; it was my listening that needed work.
Like many folks I am reluctant to leave Summit in the summer, for most of the same reasons we welcome so many visitors this time of year. Often, I remind myself not to take for granted the moon over the peaks, or the garden of wildflowers a few steps out the door. Sadly, it’s the sounds of summer I’ve failed to give their due, from the crackle of a campfire to the squeals that escape the confines of an outdoor pool on a lazy afternoon.
Some summer sounds require an altogether different kind of listening. Neither headphones, nor even the most intent attention to my current surroundings give them voice.
Instead, I’ve noticed these sounds drift in and out of my mind, together with images of family and friends gathered years ago on a distant porch to celebrate the Fourth. It was a place where tall tales, and nearly believable accounts of family lore would double me over, while tears slipped down my cheeks. Most of the storytellers are long gone from this earth, and I’m not sure if there is a crowded porch somewhere in heaven where they still swap stories. I do know that when I listen just right I can find their channel, where their laughter rings in my ears, and gives life to long-ago summers that I can hear in my heart.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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