The sound of country living on a deep rural road (or better yet, off the road entirely) is an overlooked wonder of today's modern world. It is more than a sound, or a lack thereof; it is a multi-sensory experience. An actual feeling that seems to first enter through my chest, then spreads to my belly and brain, like the slow ooze of melting chocolate. My ears tingle with the ongoing background ambience – crickets and frogs setting the underlying rhythm, birds overlaying their tracks, the quiet rustle of leaves in the breeze like the sweet harmony of a backup singer.
If I were to analyze it as a sound recordist, I would tell you of the mid to high level frequencies I hear now coming in through the windows of our kitchen. Few low frequency sounds seem to exist in the natural environment (aside from the notable sound of our own heartbeats), while in the city machines, subways, even footsteps create an ongoing bass line in our lives. I wonder what the difference is in our brains - the light and soft sounds of nature versus the heavy, deep ones created by humankind.
Friends who visited last weekend commented on the "silence" almost immediately, two of the three friends within the first ten minutes of getting out of the car. “It is just so quiet,” one of them said, listening attentively with a look of wonder on her face. But it was more than just surprise - the sound is grounding, like the feeling you get when you first fully settle into a hot bathtub. It penetrates deeply into your bones, reminding you to take note of the moment before you.
There is scientific evidence that “natural sounds” positively impact our bodies and minds. Studies have found that simply listening to sounds of water can impact our endocrine system. And it is believed that natural sounds can help facilitate healing as well. In one fascinating study, natural sounds were found to link the brain to outward activity while artificial sounds focused ones attention inward, much in the way brain waves are observed in those experiencing depression and anxiety.
I often wonder what it would be like for more people to be able to live full time in the country and to work with their hands, outdoors, in this kind of supportive sound environment. It seems we might cut the number of people with “attention issues” and depression dramatically. Living in a rural setting may be just what the doctor ordered.
We would love to invite you all to visit, to take a trip to a place away from wild fires and protests, disease and even Derechos (thanks to all of you who asked, but we did not have those winds down here in southern Iowa). We are even coming up with ways for people to join us here on the farm longer term and to have a Tiny House of their own (send us a query if you are interested in learning more).
Life on the farm (especially when farm work is optional) is good for the soul.