Drizzling rain, croaking frogs, the call of birds... I am in bed early tonight with my bedroom window open, letting in the smell of freshly fallen rain, and all the backyard music.
Ours is not a spacious country home, just a small half-a-duplex in one of the decidedly less cool neighbourhoods in the city, but we are fortunate to live on the edge of a development, with ditch and dirt path and grassland just beyond our backyard fence. It is land owned by the hydroelectric company, and they have built their towers all along it, holding up long stretches of electric cable, and as a result, I know it is in no danger of being developed into the newest suburb. A funny way to get a nature preserve, I guess, but when I hear the frogs and watch the red-winged blackbirds dart in front of the setting sun, I feel lucky to live just in this humble spot.
My favourite kind of meditation is just mindful awareness of sound. I remember doing it for the first time in sixth grade, with the classroom windows open, everyone listening for as many different sounds as they could. I feel my ears stretch into the distance, searching for every pin drop of a sound, and my mind clears of everything else.
Tonight, the frogs are stealing the show, but the symphony coming in my bedroom window is varied and rich for anyone with ears to hear. There is the hum of the far off industrial plant. Also, the roar of a distant train, punctuated by the whistle blow now, and again. These are the only sounds the survive even in the dead of winter, my constant companions. Now, in full spring, I also hear birds, many kinds of birds, but my uneducated ear does not know how to name them. A hawk is there, I think, and a robin... A Canada goose... Many others call, and while I do not know their names, my ear remembers their songs, heard many evenings before this one.
Dripping water hits the fence, leaking from the eavestroughs, long overdue for a cleaning. A squirrel screeches, a cat meows, and I hear the frogs, the frogs, the constant frogs... Only in springtime are they as loud as this.
As I listen, my breathing slows without effort. My mind feels emptied, opened up by the evening air. I wonder why I don't do this all the time. I know why.
I know how prone I am to rushing, to busyness, to always finding one more thing I should be doing, until I collapse into bed, exhausted by the activities of another day, making mental lists of everything I want to accomplish tomorrow. Moving through life at this pace hardly leaves room for these sacred moments. It hardly leaves room to breathe.
Tonight, I took the time to breathe, to listen. And I hear just one more sound: the small voice of my still-awake son, quietly singing to himself in the moments before sleep. A reminder of how to slow down, and why, and for whom. It is not just about me, anymore.