Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: South America (02/05/09)
TITLE: Noisy Quiet
By Joanne Sher
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My husband, three inches taller than I am, is looking up at me, probably convinced I'm insane. And maybe he's right.
"It's beautiful from up here."
He chuckles. "It had quite an impact on you, didn't it?"
I nod. "Come on up."
I've never known quiet to be so noisy before. It's a good thing I'm exhausted.
The mattress looks inviting, but I suppose I should get out of these clothes first. It certainly can't hurt, with the sweat dripping down my body.
I peel off my boots, knee socks, pants, long-sleeved shirt, and, of course, my hat. I slip into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt--an outfit much more fitting for the air temperature.
I examine the bed for creepy crawly things. Finding none, I smile. I stretch out on my cot and look straight up. At least I can't see the sky.
Don't get me wrong--I like a star-studded view as well as, if not better than, the average person. But if I had to choose between protection from the elements and those beautiful twinklers, there's no contest. Dry is definitely my preference.
You see, it's supposed to rain tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. You get the picture. Walking around in it is one thing. But trying to sleep? Can't imagine it's doable: at least not for me.
It's not like I'm a victim of false advertising. This is the rainforest, for goodness sake. It's not like I was expecting five-star accommodations or bright, cloudless skies. When I offered to pay my own way to go on an Amazon rainforest adventure with three dozen middle schoolers, just so I could write a story for my local paper, and maybe get published in a national magazine, I knew I wouldn't be ordering room service. But somehow, the ruggedness--the roughness--of it, didn't hit me, until now.
Oh well. Part of the adventure, I suppose. I close my eyes and listen to that noisy quiet.
My ears are practically overloaded. There are at least a dozen different sounds, none of which appear to be man-made. The croak of frogs sounds familiar, but the other noises are completely foreign. Birds, perhaps? Maybe a monkey? Some animal I've never seen? Most likely. But perhaps, before the end of the week, I will.
I don't think I have ever been this enveloped in God's creation: certainly not since I acknowledged Him just five months ago. Nearly everything around me is evidence of His handiwork. How could I have ever believed this was an accident: a series of random scientific processes?
I think back over the day. The airports were a madhouse: especially O'Hare. The tween chatter didn't help much either. However, the beauty of the Andes as we soared above them did. And what a contrast between where we'd spent the first part of the day and the sparseness and primitivity of the Iquitos, Peru airport. I laugh, remembering the monkey on the shoulder of the elderly woman, and the fact that it almost grabbed the hat off my head. Then there was the hour-plus canoe ride up the Yarapa river, and the incredible view of the native people and wildlife along the shorelines.
Once we arrived at our home for the next week, we were all quite eager to get our legs moving. The plants were so vibrant. Even the insects were more brilliant in color. I was so engrossed; I didn't even notice the heat.
I focus again on the many noises of the wildlife around me, trying to guess what each animal sound is in turn. I may never know if I'm right, but it doesn't hurt to guess.
I have a feeling this is going to be quite a trip.
"Come up there? No thanks." He sits on the ground and looks up at me perched in our tree. "You just enjoy it yourself."
"I will." I close my eyes and listen to this different noisy quiet. Sure, I hear cars zooming past our house. But my ears, perhaps sensitized over the past week, pick up at least two different birds, the wind rustling through the leaves, and the movement of the grass as my husband shifts on the ground. For a moment, I forget I'm in my own front yard.
It was here waiting for me. Too bad I had to go all the way to the Amazon to realize it.
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