The other night I was sitting outside and watching the sun disappear behind the mountain. I was alone with the prairie dogs, bats, bunnies, and mosquitos. It was mostly quiet except for the cars on the two-lane highway adjacent to the house and a dog barking in the subdivision across the road. Not terribly noise polluted and the 9:15 train whistle wasn’t noxious or unwelcome. But as I sat and watched the stars appear around the crescent moon I realized exactly how quiet it is on the prairie. I think of it as “quiet” here in the yellow house. It’s not like we are next to the freeway or even a busy downtown street. But the traffic noise is close to constant during commuting hours. But at night when it’s time for bed there is very little traffic and it’s almost as quiet as the prairie when the wind isn’t a steady howl.
As I counted the stars I remembered how I had awakened in the predawn light with only a bird calling. The birds don’t bother to sleep at night during the summer. They call to one another all night when the weather is hot and the nights are short. I could hear the wind lightly stirring the trees and I swear I could hear it ruffling the long stemmed cold weather grasses. I sleep on the side of the bed next to a window—thankfully—open that hot night. It wasn’t overly windy and the breeze was cool but without a hint of briskness. It was the perfect ambient temperature and a little moist just like the breezes are near the ocean. The whispering trees and grasses almost sounded like waves from a distance. My ocean of grass was mimicking my other favorite landscape. I made myself stay awake for a few minutes more before I drifted back to sleep and then reawakened a couple of hours later by Beatrice’s warning barks. The morning’s noises only included the birds, the insects, and the wind. The only sounds outside of the natural world beyond the window was his soft breathing beside me.
Perhaps it’s the relative silence of the prairie or the company I’m keeping while I’m there but it feels indulgent to awaken slowly in the quiet. There is no call to hop from bed and start wrestling about with the day. Even on the occasional morning I must pop from bed and return home for work, the quiet eases me from sleep to consciousness and that same quiet invites and lulls me back to sleep while the nocturnal birds call to one another in the dark.