• Abi Starr


Updated: Jan 2, 2020

Here's an edited version of the very first piece we were asked to write for the course, at the first residential at Corsham Court, back in November. It's definitely not my finest work, but it's better than it was originally!

Even the most peaceful patch of countryside is rarely truly silent. Quiet, maybe, but with a little attention, even the most subtle sounds become prominent and hard to ignore.

I’m on a mission to listen.

My jacket crackles as I swing my arms, striding out across the fields. The first natural sound I hear is one of the faintest. The quietest brushing as the grasses and wild flowers surrender to my feet. There are thistles here too, and they crunch underfoot like freshly fallen snow. Also from ground level, the monotonous hum of insects rises. They’re busy jostling for prime position, creating a comforting buzz as they do so.

Up in the old, gnarled, branches, the crows croak miserably, debating the day’s topics in their treetop parliament. The wind grabs my attention as it swoops through the oak. It stimulates conversations between the leaves that we will never be a part of.

The water also holds secrets, and shares them with the shore as it laps against it. I look over the lake and watch coots dive, heading into the unknown in search of their next meal. They make a terrific splashing sound as they do so.

A dunnock pipes up from the hedgerow, hoping to be heard above the robin and the wren. The wren’s harsh, grating call is surely too loud to be produced by such a small bird.

As I wander closer for a better view, my coat snags on a bramble. It makes a dry, scraping sound as I wrestle it free. A small skein of Canada geese passes overhead, their pulsating wingbeats creating a mechanical sound as they do so.

The goldfinches chatter loudly in the trees, like schoolchildren in the playground; noisily evaluating the events of the morning.

As I listen, I reach wetter ground, and my boots squelch and squeak over the damp vegetation. I head back towards the building and the great tits mark my return to civilisation with their famous calls of ‘teacher, teacher’ that are so familiar to me.

I’m back at the building. Now the sounds I hear are manmade, and too loud. Whirring, shouting, rumbling. They stir up an entirely different set of thoughts and emotions.

I’ll take the natural sounds, any day.

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