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By Emily McIvor

Seeking Sonic Souvenirs

March 24th, 2024

The days are longer, the temperatures are rising (and falling, and rising again), and we’re seeing green things emerge from the ground and on the bushes and trees. You might be skipping a coat some mornings because the afternoon will be so warm. I’m even beginning to clear last year’s old, dried-out stems from my garden. Spring is finally arriving.

Along with spring’s visual emergence, there are other cues that the season has changed, too.

We take family walks a few days a week, and I’ve noticed how much noisier these walks have gotten recently, even as we enjoy spotting new daffodils and buds on trees. Songbirds have returned, the squirrels are out and about, digging for nuts and chittering away at each other, and we even heard a couple of woodpeckers the other day. There are more human-made sounds, too: kids playing basketball and tag, lawnmowers and blowers making their first appearances of the year, even the scrapes of ladders and hammers in place where repair and construction are occurring.

The whole world is waking up, coming alive again, and for me, who has spent my life listening to all kinds of sounds, the new reverberations that surround us again are one of my favorite parts of springtime.

These days we spend a lot of time listening to the radio, to podcasts, to movies and TV shows—and making conscious choices about the kinds of sounds we decide to take in. But when is the last time you spent a little time just absorbing the sounds of the world around you? Whether you’re stuck inside or you can get out for a walk or a visit to a park, close your eyes and let yourself absorb the sonic sensations all around you.

We take in a wealth of information through our ears, usually without realizing it—and without always paying attention to it, especially when we’re busy with something else. When we close our eyes and tune in to our ears, instead, we get to experience our familiar world in a novel way. You might find yourself relaxing a bit, taking some deep breaths, smelling the new grass, and letting the things you hear carry you away from the concerns of your day, even if it’s only for a moment.

Since this is Nebraska, and warm temperatures and beautiful sunshine will play hide-and-seek with Mother Nature for a few more weeks yet, these small moments are little treasures to carry along with us as we deal with blustery winds and hauling out the winter coat yet one more time. Tuck a few sonic souvenirs in your pocket, along with the sights of new growth, as you wait for spring to settle in.