Wednesday, 21 November 2007

The sound of silence

Today Mrs S and I took a walk down to the waters edge. Dog fussed around in the shallows and got thoroughly wet. We just sat there on a near perfect November morning watching a Sea Otter hunting out in the middle of the channel. We sat together on a metre thick sea washed log, amber and stripped of it's bark by the tides. Both alert for the tell-tale ripples that would betray the Otters presence. For ten minutes, neither of us spoke except with the occasional gesture. Both of us struck mute, overcome with the grandeur, and above all the quietness.

Apart from the far off noise of the ferry terminal, the only noise was the soft lapping of the water on the dark grey rocks. A nearly still sea with a chilly slowly ebbing tide. Diving birds unhurriedly up-ending themselves to feed on thick shoals of fry just below the surface. Even the eagles were silent. The ferry terminal went quiet as the last departure cruised out of earshot and for a while not even the wind stirred the trees. For two long minutes, all I could hear was the small, insistent sound of my own heart beating. The cares of the previous day evaporated.

A small thought crossed my mind that this must be the sound of one hand clapping, that moment of complete inner stillness and calm, near revelatory in it's spiritual impact. Mrs S must have felt it too, because we turned slowly, looking at each other with a shared feeling of fulfilment and content.

Then the dog bounced back into view noisily paddling through the shallows and the moment was gone. He had found something to roll in that stunk. His canine grin said it all.
“He’ll need a bath when we get home.” Mrs S remarked.
I nodded, knowing that washing the dog is exclusively my chore. “Come on then.” I got up and held out my hand.

We clambered back up the slope and went home. It took me two hours to wash and dry our mucky mutt. I didn't mind at all.

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