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...
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.
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
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.
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.
"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
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!"
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!).
soon, by noon, the fog will burn off, and the breezes will pick
up, and the surrounding trees will give us the patternsthe
patterns of the movement of the wind made audible as it moves through
the millions of fir-needles, exuding oxygen in waves and pulses.
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".
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!"
thank you Betsy, for some sweet morning music.
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.
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!