On a recent commute to work, I heard NPR advertising an upcoming show about rattlesnakes. They called these snakes the sonic icons of the West. I just love that.
I never thought about it before, but there are a lot of sonic icons in the world. Certain sounds bring you right back to a place. Sometimes I’ll go to Youtube to hear recordings of coqui frogs if I want to feel like I’m back in Puerto Rico. And I miss the crickets in the Eastern US. And there’s nothing quite like the hearing the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer in Istanbul echoing around the Bosphorus.
Many sounds, both natural and man-made, can be iconic. I love hearing crows purr during mating season. Fog horns and train whistles make me smile. I will never forget the sound of redwoods creaking and groaning in the wind in Northern California. Lawnmowers in the distance make me think of summertime. Morning birdsong in Seattle is completely different than morning birdsong on the East Coast. I love the sounds of cows lowing in a valley. I used to sit outside at night on my drawbridges in Florida and wait to hear the sound of the dolphins’ blow holes as they swam by. And to me, church bells sound like peace.
The idea of sonic icons delights me. I often wonder, when I’m blowing my horn on my drawbridge, if there aren’t people who enjoy that sound. I know there are people who complain about it. You never have people calling to say they love it. I know I love it.
What are your sonic icons?
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