I hug my knees to my chest and close my eyes, listening to the
sound of the river. Or the sounds of the river. I try to pick up
each contributing harmony, rhythm, and cadence; the slap of water
on the canyon wall, the ripple as it washes upon the bank, the steady
rush of it downstream.
In college, I had to analyze Bach's St. Matthew's Passion,
note after note after note. In so doing, I learned how to focus
on the music, to pick up the countermelody being played by two violins,
to hear the gentle shift of the orchestra into the minor key. This
same skill proves useful in the woods, as I am often confronted
with a vast field of sounds: the wind among the trees, the boughs
creaking dryly, the chatter of falling rock. Birds hidden in the
undulating willows, the endless play of water upon rock and root.
These are subtle differences to be sure, but the human ear, tied
as it is to the animal, can learn to sort them out and attribute
them to their right makers. We are a product of a diverse environment,
if not this one along the Florida River. With practice and time
we learn, and the breaking crash of an elk in the trees is not confused
with a mule deer's prancing run. Old secrets, these skills that
we harbor within us. Old and rusty, but potent, needing only to
be honed on the rough wheel of the wild world, in open country,
to be keen again. Try their temper.
Andrew J. Kroll, from A Day on the Florida, in the Summer 1997
issue of The Trumpeter (Box 5853, Stn. B, Victoria, BC, Canada,