The following is an on-line conversation, overheard between list members Betsy Barnum and Robert Greenway (and repeated here with permission), on the subject of Crickets...

8/13/01, Betsy Barnum:
Right now (about 9 p.m. Central time) I am sitting in my upstairs office, listening to the crickets outside my window creating the sweetest, most mesmerizing music. It's like a jazz ensemble, like counterpoint, with various voices, singing at various intervals, over and around each other, every bit as if they were orchestrating it just to delight the human ear. I try to follow one, wait for it in its rhythm, and the others weave in and out of my hearing, drawing all my attention into this sense, out into the soft darkness, where these superb instrumentalists continue their tune of a late-summer night. These vocalists whose whole bodies make their enchanting song. Sing on! Celebrate and make music for all who hear! My whole body has become a membrane vibrating to your sound.
A week ago, in the small alternative Earth-centered church service I attend, I took a turn (summer is for "everyone") telling my story of Earth Connection. After, a woman told me she had heard a recording of cricket sound slowed down, and it sounded like a symphony. She said she would bring it for me to hear.

But I think their own sounds, as they make them, no technology intervening, are entirely symphonic as is. I am utterly and completely charmed. I will fall asleep with this ecstatic, celebratory music surrounding my consciousness.

8/14/01, Robert Greenway:
It's first light here, and a thick fog hangs over our hilltop farm, and ships coming down the Straits are blowing their foghorns. Otherwise, silence, except for the occasional dripping from the trees, and a car starting up in the distance.

I loved, Betsy, hearing the crickets through your ears, and laughed out loud to remember a few months back the tens of thousands of frogs that use our pond as a base for their symphonic efforts.

The "natural music" was one of the indicators I used when taking people into wilderness - an indicator of real entry into the psychological wilderness, as differentiated from just merely entering the wilderness physically, with the fully mind-occupying culture intact.

We came to call it "the river choir" - it would take xx number of days for a person to begin hearing it/them: first, just a noisy river, often preventing sleep; then, some kind of human-like music - a Bach Choir here, a Paul Winter-like sound there; then after a week or so, the sounds would coalesce into patterns and forms - often producing deep "archetypal" emotion - "music of nature", as she is, rather than as we are, or as we want her to be. That was one of the true wilderness boundaries that some would cross, and many would not. "I heard Peter Gabriel last night", a student would say. And another would say, with tears streaming down, "I heard Music ALL NIGHT! Is this OK? Am I losing my mind?" And I might murmur, "we can only hope!"

I miss the hot-summer-night cricket bands, remember the drumming in Senegal, villages hearing each other across miles as they prepared for the national drumming contests; and here, the lonely, calling-out of the fog horns (sometimes they play in fifths!).

But soon, by noon, the fog will burn off, and the breezes will pick up, and the surrounding trees will give us the patterns—the patterns of the movement of the wind made audible as it moves through the millions of fir-needles, exuding oxygen in waves and pulses.

I think too of the shaman who came up to me and said, "Robert, sing! You must sing! The earth wants to hear our song." When I had been struck dumb on the rocks over the Big Sur ocean at the arrogant thought that we should "sing to the sea".

The earth wants to hear our song? Is that why the frogs all go silent when I sing back to them? (Or are they just disgruntled, saying a frog version of "Shit! I wish he'd just shut up -- there goes the neighborhood!"

Anyway, thank you Betsy, for some sweet morning music.

8/27/01, Betsy Barnum:
I tell you, the crickets and cicadas make such music on these velvety nights of late summer... I don't know why it charms me so. It's like the darkness itself is singing, buzzing, trilling, in an endless and intricately counter-pointed song. I've heard this sound all my life, always liked it, but only this summer has it gotten inside me, vibrated in my forehead as well as my eardrums. And made me feel like I'm floating in waves of this vibrating sound, like the night air has come alive and is wafting through the screens as I fall asleep with all my windows open.

I was at a friend's house a few nights ago, and noticed upon leaving at about 9:30 that I could only hear one cricket. She lives in a condo--there are some plantings, but probably chemicals are used. It made me realize that my "freedom lawn," as another friend called it - meaning I don't water, don't weed, rarely mow (in the drought conditions, what grass there is doesn't grow much anyway), and of course, I use no chemicals. And my yard seems full of the little musicians - I can't count them but there are many. And I thought, even if my neighbors are unhappy about my unkempt yard, the crickets seem to like it, and I value that much more than my neighbors' approval!