There is something enthralling about the utter silence of the desert at two in the morning! It is absolutely the sound of silence.
Living inside the beltway that surrounds Washington, DC, you quickly learn that the middle-of-the-night quiet is anything but. There is a constant drone of tires on roadways, the omnipresent shriek of sirens and, of course, the buzz and chirp and croak of hundreds of nighttime critters.
A mere 50 miles outside the beltway, in rural Virginia, those critters can be deafening in the middle of the night. Tree frogs burp out their calls, cicadas fill the air with a never-ending bzzzzzzz. The bugs and beasts of the night are only silenced when the air is filled with an overnight downpour.
Here in the desert, except for the occasional howl or bark of a coyote, there is no sound at all outside my open window. Nothing! Absolute stillness. When I first heard it … or I guess didn’t hear it … I was taken aback.
Fall and spring bring the cooler temps that allow us to throw open the windows and let in the breeze. Those coyote howls, often eerily close, remind me how different life is here. But the spectacular silence was initially jarring. I considered asking “Alexa” to play cricket noises or some other nighttime white noise. Then I woke up about two a.m. and just lay there in the dark, listening to nothing. It was delightful.
In the evening, the plink, plink, plink of the pickleball courts about a half mile away travels to our yard. Sometimes you can hear a movie crash or sitcom laugh from a neighbor’s TV, sending its flickering light into the night. But by ten or eleven, tranquility overtakes everything. Peace settles in for the night.
It doesn’t last until morning, though. For another year or two, construction on the nearby neighborhoods will continue. The beep, beep, beep of trucks backing up so they are in place to begin work frequently interrupts the night around three. The workers can’t turn on their music or wield a hammer until an hour before dawn by state law, but they want to be ready. So the trucks begin arriving well before the allowed hour. Fortunately, that won’t be forever.
The rest of the time, I am thrilled by the nothingness that envelopes my interrupted sleep, grateful for the dark serenity that fills the night.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Let something new about a strange place surprise and thrill you.
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