I’m fortunate to be able to spend a little time at a cottage during the summer. One of my favourite things to do is to get up just before sunrise and take the canoe out for a slow paddle.
As the sun creeps upward, it’s a time of awe-inspiring silence.
The water is like glass. Only the bow of the canoe and my paddle cut through its smooth shiny surface.
It’s not really silent though. You can hear some birds singing and the odd fish jumping out of water, but it’s as close to silence as I can get without finding a anechoic chamber somewhere.
I know that, very soon, the silence will be overcome by fishing boat motors or the splashes of an early morning swimmer, or worse, by jet skis and skill saws.
I’ll often head over to an old beaver dam and just sit there in the canoe. I’ll let my ears search the forest and water for a chirp, rustle or splash. I hope for a chance encounter with a beaver perhaps. But my paddling has probably tipped them off long before I arrive so that’s never happened.
This is a place where I remind myself how to listen.
And that’s important. Because without an appreciation for silence, we can’t really listen to what others have to say.