The welcome sound of silence

At daybreak, the best noise is none at all

This morning we woke up to utter silence, except for the soft whoosh of a dry creek, about five hundred feet outside our bedroom window, that had come to life after a hellacious rainstorm overnight. Then our three cats began their daily chorus of meowing, clamoring for food. After I fed them, we discovered that our fickle wireless internet connection had been knocked out by the rainstorm thus extending our unexpected but welcome peace and quiet.

The deep silence when you live in the country can be disorienting. We are not used to the sensory deprivation of not having music, barking dogs, internet pinging, buses, cars, sirens, parades or church bells, each demanding our attention. In large cities, even in the middle of the night the thrum of urban life goes on.

Sometimes when we are having breakfast or dinner on the terrace, Stew will remark, “Boy, it’s so quiet,” apparently still taken aback by the silence, even after thirteen years living here.

Of course, you can’t escape the buzz in your mind, even when you lie in bed looking at the ceiling fan. This morning it occurred to me that a large portion of the noise in our lives comes via the internet.

One compulsive morning habit of mine is to reach for the Kindle Fire tablet on the nightstand to check emails and other messages. Invariably most of them jangle whatever peace of mind I woke up with. On this internet-less morning, though, the tablet was dead: no emails or messages from the outside world could get through.

Not content to enjoy the unanticipated serenity, I turned to my cell phone, which sometimes works independently of the house internet.

It did not disappoint today as it blurted out a torrent of emails and WhatsApp messages, hardly any of them calming or reassuring, except for a Facebook posting about gardening.

I found a WhatsApp text from my cousin in Austin that his wife, who has pancreatic cancer, had been taken off chemotherapy in preparation for “life’s final phase.” News of a horrid mass killing at a nursery school in Thailand. Oil prices expected to go up along with inflation. Another narcissistic stunt by Trump, who refuses to abandon the limelight.

Other electronic diversions in the house didn’t work. The Alexa noise box in the kitchen was silent without internet, and on my office computer so were Photoshop Lightroom, the blogging software WordPress, Google’s search function and Facebook. So I wrote this post on Microsoft Word, which still worked.

Helpfully, or not, Stew has figured out that when the internet fails, we can still tune in classical music on our Canadian satellite TV system, which seems to play on oblivious to any disruption by God or man. By nine o’clock, Stew announced the internet signal had returned. There goes my tranquility.

Tomorrow I plan an experiment. I will feed the cats first thing, then lie in bed and just listen to the sound of the nearby creek. Maybe close my eyes. No news, no nothing.

But not today. I have to transfer this post to WordPress and publish it.  

10 thoughts on “The welcome sound of silence

  1. babsofsanmiguel

    Goodness, I would think that the serenity of silence would be a huge part of your day!  But then I forget there are two of you and multiple other beings living with you.  The sound ofthe creek would be awesome. Hope you try the path of NOT turning everything on in the morning and just hearing nature.  Itis SO soothing….. Hugs to you both. Barbara San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

    415 124-9450 Mx Cell 713 589-2721 Vonage

    “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”                                            Helen Keller


  2. jenniferhamiltonsma

    Never a problem with Shaw when there’s no internet, but if you have a Firestick that’s what doesn’t work when the system is down😉


        1. Elon Musk, the guy who started the electric car revolution has launched several thousand (thousand) satellites that will bring internet to every corner of the globe, including Mexico. The system is called Starlink and several people on the Civil List have bought it and installed it and supposedly they are very happy with it.


  3. othmarsingen

    Surprisingly, the Mexico City neighborhood where I rent a condo is usually very quiet at night… unlike my partner’s neighborhood where it seems as if every single saint’s day has to be observed with fireworks all night long. I tease him that his “colonia” is too “folklórica”.
    However, soon after dawn, those noisy “pesero” buses start rumbling down my street, and the cacophony of the city begins.
    William (I have a different name for commenting on WordPress.)


    1. Every time we go into San Miguel, I’m amazed at the noise. The narrow streets in particular amplify the noise of buses and traffic. Plus gas delivery trucks, garbage pick ups, and fireworks at the slightest opportunity. On one of a thousand holidays and celebrations, it’s cacophony time.


  4. I grew up in the middle of a forest on the Peninsula south of San Francisco. The nearest neighbor was a good quarter mile away, and the thick growth of redwood trees muffled any sounds they might have made. It was always dead quiet, save for the wind in the branches, and the sound of my parents’ car coming home from work. Oddly enough, even as a child, I always yearned to live in the Big City. And pretty much since I left home, I’ve done so: San Francisco; Houston; Los Angeles; Boston. And now the biggest of them all, Mexico City. Mostly the noise doesn’t bother me, and I’ve managed to live in relatively quiet neighborhoods. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t occasionally hanker for the dead quiet of the country.

    Once I flew into Altoona, PA for business, on a little prop plane into a tiny airport. Once the pilot had taxied up to the terminal, he shut off the engine. Then all we could hear was the sound of birds. It was wonderful.

    Perhaps some day you should write a post about how you Chicago boys decided to live there, out in the boonies after a lifetime in the hubbub of one of America’s biggest metropolises. I meant to ask you about it when we met, but there was so much else to talk about.


    Kim G
    Roma Sur, CDMX
    Where the worst noise is all the honking in traffic.


    1. Actually, as San Miguel continues to grow in our direction, it’s bringing some traffic noise with it, particularly the sound of trucks downshifting with the engine. We wish we had more trees around here, like you had in California. Some friends live in North Carolina and their house is surrounded by old pines and like you said, the whispering of the wind going through the trees is heavenly. The street you live on in Mexico City is amazingly quiet, considering the nonstop urban mayhem just a couple of blocks away.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s