Forest Habitat © Lang Elliott Forest drizzle with backdrop of Spring Peepers plus various bird sounds. 6 am, 2 May 2016, Finger Lakes National Forest near Trumansburg, New York. © Lang Elliott.

Although it rained all night, I rose early and drove through light fog to a forested area in hopes of hearing my first Wood Thrush of the year. No luck! In fact, there was next-to-nothing going on, except for the misty rain and drip from trees. I was disappointed, but decided to take a brief walk in the woods. And that is when the magic happened.

I took a deep breath, relaxed and listened, truly listened … trying my best to practice what I preach. And soon I was mesmerized by the pops and snaps of the water droplets, falling from the trees and splashing upon the oak and maple leaves that blanketed the ground. Next I noticed the Spring Peepers chorusing from a distant woodland pond. How delightful! So I set up my soundscape microphone and hit record, pleased that I allowed myself to touch upon the miracle at hand.

Within seconds, I became aware of the soft notes of a lone Black-capped Chickadee, whistling its delicate fee-bee-eee from high in the trees. After about a minute, a female Wood Duck called from the distant pond, her repeated squeals sounding rather musical to my ears. Next, an American Robin gave two whinny calls and then broke into its cheery dawn-song … a real treat and luckily not so close as to break my calm. After that, there was a long interlude of drip, peepers, and chickadee, punctuated by the down-slurred alarm whistles from a Red-winged Blackbird. Finally, near the end, I was pleased to hear the hawk-like calls of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, followed by a few drums.

I am quite happy with my morning’s catch, already a treasured “forest drizzle” soundscape. It will go into my collection of meditative recordings … soundscapes that beg one to surrender to the totality of dimensional sound. Altogether I got about fifteen minutes of usable material, before a jet roared overhead and a car zoomed by on the gravel road.

Shaken from my dream by the sounds of machines, I decided to pack up and go home. And soon I too was roaring down the gravel road, disturbing countless other gentle beings quietly meditating in the forest with water droplets falling lightly upon their saintly heads.

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