Folded Field Notes is an interactive column that explores a new ecological topic each fortnight — part writing challenge, part citizen science project — led by alternating guides with assistance from editor & ecologist JS Graustein. Will you join us?
TODAY’S TOPIC : Silence
In the field of ecology, the concept of silence can be applied to the organisms/systems studied, as well as the impacts of that study. In almost every application, though, an element of time is involved. The still silence of a newborn fawn in the meadow lengthens both his lifespan and the time a hungry coyote must be away from her pups. Winter woods exhibit cyclical silence when inhabitants migrate and hibernate. There is the permanent silence of extinction. There is the protective silence of ornithologists when a bird once thought to be extinct is rediscovered. Mammologists must be silent while recording behavioral data of animals who are spooked by humans, returning time and again to the same blind. And there are the silent hours, days, and years that tick by after ecologists publish their unsexy-yet-necessary findings when no one picks up their stories.
Barbara Flaherty is an artist and poet who lives on the north shore of Boston with two feline critics, Sylvester and Tashi. She works in the historic Manchester by the Sea Public Library. Barbara previously served as Folded’s acquisitions editor and has sponsored public readings for Folded authors.
As winter approaches, there is a deepening darkness that seeps quietly into the days and nights. Along the coastline there have been a number of storms and upheavals during this month; but once the wind moves off into the distance, there it is — that deepening quiet into which the earth is settling — not the hibernation for which the animal world is preparing, more a sense of respite that at some level of my being, I envy!
There is something good about walking
with winter, holding its hand hidden
in mittens of deepening darkness,
feeling the daylight’s limitations,
matching my own steps with a slower light
There is something restorative in the color
of silence, its presence translucent
with time moving into a place
where the sun is different
Yes, quiet is the color of silence
©2018 by Barbara Flaherty
Your turn! In the comments section below, please let us know if you’ve observed any kind of transition recently — including general location and time of day. We’ll leave the comments open for the next two weeks in case you need a chance to go on a field trip first😊 And if your encounter inspires you to write a response (short poem, flash fiction, or mini essay), please come back and share that as well. In January, we’ll post a community poem based on all your observations. We’ll also select one of the response pieces to publish in our Written Word Wednesday column (revisions may be requested).
Please note: Comments are moderated. Your comment may not appear online right after you submit it, but we will see it in our dashboard.