I’ve been thinking about the various sounds I hear, especially early in the morning, when I take Izzy for walks. Some of them are the usual: the world waking up around us, birds stirring, leaves rustling, the breathing of every living thing. Others make no sense at all, unless you live in the small rural town in North Carolina where Izzy and I explore something new each day.
In the morning, a rooster who lives across the railroad tracks makes certain that everyone knows he’s around. The ra-a-ra-a-roooo echoes down my quiet street and Izzy’s ears perk up. Unfortunately, that rooster really has no clue what time it is, because he cock-a-roos at all hours of the day and night. It’s just easier to hear him when everything else is silent.
The other dogs in the neighborhood are let out into their respective yards, so those sounds are part of the fabric. The shepherd mix across the street is still yawning as the sun comes up, so he does little more than give us a ‘huff’ as we go by. The two rescues behind the fence on the corner are invisible to us (I’ve literally never seen them), but Izzy sniffs through the fence at them to say ‘good morning’ and they do their usual crazy, frantic barking as they trace us from the inside of their compound. The chihuahua that lives around the corner doesn’t go out into his fenced in section of the yard until later in the day, so we’re spared his craziness. (That’s one dog both Izzy and I can live without.) And there are several others that are either just waking up in their houses and want to be let outside or who have already spent the evening tied up in the yard and want to eat.
But those aren’t the only sounds. The turkey vultures that nest in a huge magnolia behind Mr. Mendoza’s house lift in unison–25-30 big birds–and the whoosh-whup-whoosh of their wings sends shivers down my spine, whether it’s first thing in the morning or late at night when I can’t see them. Izzy stops whatever he’s doing and lifts his head to the sky to watch them.
Robins always tempt Izzy to chase them because they poke around the edge of the newly-mown yards in the hopes of getting a worm. Though Izzy is fast, he hasn’t caught one yet (thankfully), but that doesn’t mean he’s quit trying. Cardinals swoop past us, a flash of scarlet and a quick double whistle-clack-clack-clack, to signify they’re on the move. The dainty call of a pretty Eastern Bluebird as it sings to its mate, the low coo of the soft gray doves that live in the rafters of the stately brick house on the corner of Main Street, the insistent call of a blue jay guarding its nest. Normal bird sounds.
Then there’s the gas station on the Boulevard where a verse from the “Car Wash” song blurts every couple of minutes (and, personally, drives me nuts–Izzy doesn’t even notice anymore). And the bang of trucks filling with lumber at the lumber store further down Main Street. During the day, those sounds disappear into the fabric of other, louder sounds: bleeping car horns, the occasional whine of a police siren, the rumbles of trucks. Not to mention the phone that rings at all hours of the day and night — I think it’s on a stereo speaker so that the mechanic to whom it belongs can answer whenever he’s outside, but why do people call at 6 AM and let it ring and ring and ring?
My favorite sounds of all, though, are the ones Izzy makes. He huffs and sniffs at dandelions, whines softly when we pass the dogs unlucky enough to be on ropes in their backyards, burps loudly when we stand waiting at the corner. He’s my funny companion, quieter than most, but his language is just as recognizable as the language of the morning, the sounds of our dog walk.