(1 July 2007)
Whether you live in the city or the country, there's always the hum of a refrigerator. If you're fortunate enough to find yourself in a hardwood forest away from roads, there is another source of white noise that breathes with the wind. In the old-growth maple forest, the generously-spaced trunks rise fifty feet without a branch, forming a canopy of leaves that in the wind sounds remarkably like the ocean's surf. The little sunlight that penetrates the canopy is insufficient to feed undergrowth, thus the old-growth forest is easily walkable, and dappled with ever-flickering light. The great trees often topple in a gale, breaking the canopy and letting sunlight in to nurture the seedlings, who quickly rise up to fill the gap. The dappled light of the forest is so evenly dispersed that this light flooding in with a blow-down is surprising, as is the darkness created where the leafy treetop rests on the ground. Rain, too, has trouble finding its way through the canopy. There were times when I only heard the rain and never felt it.