My first soundwalk – it didn’t go quite as planned

Rustling, shimmying, arrrgggghhhhhhh.

Those are the sounds from my first soundwalk. I’ve got it on video on my phone. A close-up of a spider’s web, light green leaves waving in the background, then something swoops from behind me heading out to the light, the video takes a dramatic arc to the right, a squeal from me, and then giggling, lots of giggling. The bird, blackbird in size, but a blur on the video, flew under my arm, grazing the crook with its wings. I think we were as shocked as each other. On the positive side, I must have been doing a good job of staying still and quiet for my recording if the bird thought I was a tree.

I’d ventured out a whole five metres from my front door to the row of raised trees that sit between our house and Levi’s Park, a small council-provided green space, loved by dog owners, kids on bikes trying to outgrow their stabilisers, and the occasional late-night congregation near the basketball hoop of those who are underaged and unable to handle their booze. I’m ashamed to admit in the twenty-one years I’ve lived here the only times I’d paid much attention to the trees was when we lobbied the local council to trim them because they interfered with our Sky dish, or when I was trying to get Nigel, a baby grey squirrel, back to his shrieking mother. But in the last year, corralled in our houses, I began to pay attention to the trees, the tops of which arch over the window of my office. It probably started as a bird thing; my studies have led to a greater interest in who comes to visit on the many feeders that line our small cul-de-sac. I’m most interested, and slightly peeved, that the chaffinches congregate in the dogwoods and cherry blossoms out the front, but never hop over the roof to check out my seedballs and suet coconuts.

At this time of year, you can still find adult-sized holes in the growing vegetation, so I ventured through into the wilderness that lies so close. Phone in hand, ready to record, I started to make my way along the ridge, it wouldn’t be a long soundwalk, at most the space dedicated to this string of green is ten metres wide by two hundred metres long, barely a dash on the satellite view of Google Maps.

Gossiping parents, an elderly lady screeching “Tiny” after an impetuous rat-like dog, a tubby ginger-haired tween smacking a baseball bat against the metal football posts. Yes, all sounds, but I wanted calm and birdsong and delicate wisps of wind dancing on the leaves. “TINY.”

So, I dug myself further in, past the Christmas tree graveyard, grazing the fence of the street one along from ours. Quieter, quieter, quiet. I stopped, found a steady place to wedge my feet, took out my phone and pointed it at a web. The web wasn’t important, just a place to focus sight while the sounds migrated their way to the microphone. I waited, breathe steady and inobtrusive.

Rustling, shimmying, arrrgggghhhhhhh.

One thought

  1. So perfectly described … the imagery and descriptions delightful. A return to childhood wanderings and the elements now unnoticed in adult life.


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