Thursday, June 19, 2014

The art of humming tunelessly

You know I like the quiet. After all, the name of this entire blog is 'The Quiet Life' lol. After a noisy day at school there is nothing I enjoy more than to return to my haven, my Fortress of Solitude, and lower the Cone of Silence over it, and just bask in the peace.

Summers are even better, because School's Out for Summer and I can regulate the noise input to my own standards. This is not an empty pursuit. I believe quietude is important.

A recent headline at Huffington Post caught my eye this week.

7 Skills Your Grandparents Had That You Don't
My grandmother was a pro at sitting and sipping a cup of coffee and looking out the window at the garden without any distractions or boredom. A skill I could really use...
We grew up in a 100 year old farmhouse. We moved into it sometime around 1962 or so. The farmhouse must have been built around 1860s. It was a small Cape Cod style house, with small rooms downstairs, two bedrooms upstairs, and a front porch. Each downstairs room had a fireplace in it, and the one in the living room also had a fireplace bread oven next to it. My father had hung two antique rifles over two of the fireplaces, the family room and the living room. We used the fireplaces a lot. It was New England, and it was a drafty house.

My English grandmother used to sit at the rocking chair in front of the roaring fire, gazing, thinking, and humming. She'd drum her fingers on the rocking chair arm and hum tunelessly and quietly. Even at my tender age, I'd marvel at her ability to just...sit and look and think.

When I read the sentence in the HuffPo article above, I remembered my grandmother.

A popular thing to do in Maine is sit in a lattice beach chair at the edge of the garage with the door open and just watch the street and goings by.

Here is a blog writer musing about the art of lawn chair garage sitting
It is people sitting in their lawn chairs in their garages or outside their houses somewhere, watching the world go by and contemplating their navels. I can name four neighbors who do this. It really tickles me because the folks who practice this form of relaxation and retirement never seem to have a book, newspaper, or even an adult beverage, or anything else to occupy them as they while away the time.
Speaking of sitting and relaxing in the silence, I am reminded of Robert J. Lurtsema. For nearly thirty years, he was a radio personality on the classical station out of Boston. He was known for a deep rolling voice and long, long pauses as he spoke. He was also known for opening his program (Morning Pro Musica) with several minutes of bird song. It was called the Dawn Chorus and it was relaxing to hear the birds and the pauses and the quiet voice introducing beautiful music. In today's rush-rush, impatient world, dawn birdsong choruses and lawn chairs in garages and humming tunelessly whiling away the time are things gone by...goodbye


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this post, Elizabeth. I make my 12-year-old put his iPod touch out of sight and only let him get on it a couple of times a day just bc it bugs me to see everybody never having a moment's boredom. I have to discipline myself in this regard, too, by putting away the smartphone or calling someone instead of texting. Even just experiencing something without feeling a need to take a picture of it and immediately send it to my sister across the country is beginning to strike me as an odd, unnatural way to go through life. Thanks for sharing your musings on slowing down and quietude. Melissa

Elizabeth Prata said...

Hi Melissa,
Thanks so much for your comment. I agree about the photography. I always liked taking photographs and especially enjoyed it when I worked for the newspaper and took photos of children, like at the tee-ball game or the Easter Egg hunt. Photographing children is hard and I liked the challenge.

When I moved to GA I used to get a coffee and muffin at the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings, and drive all around the beautiful countryside here, taking photos.

So I always had my camera with me.

But like you, I was feeling a growing need to take a photo of everything, and put it on Facebook or my blog or send it to people, even the things that were among people and I should be interacting with the people instead of putting the barrier of the camera between us.

So when my camera started to die, I haven't revived it. The batteries go put quickly and won't recharge fully, so I have to ration the time it is on. The lens fell out and won't re-seat properly and one side of every photo is slightly blurry, so there's no point fussing a bout the perfect composition.

I no longer want to be chained to the filter of the camera when I'm in real life. Enough of my life is sequestered and technological as it is.

Anonymous said...

I completely get this. There are a couple of handfuls of pics from my childhood--not even close to the mountain of digital pics taken of our kids. It's kind of ridiculous, isn't it? My son was going off to do something fun with friends and wanted to bring his iPod to take pics. I told him to just leave it here and go. We don't have to take pictures of EVERYTHING.

My kids broke my iPad. I decided not to care. Now I have to read your blogs from my smartphone or at the regular computer, which is less convenient but, really, how many high-tech things do I need to do life?