Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Childhood Soundtrack

I am very attune to sound. I always have been. Perhaps that is why I can become totally absorbed by a piece of music, whether it is Rachmaniov's "Variations on a Theme of Paganini" or John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High". When I am traveling I always try to sit and listen to the sound around me. Some cities are unbelievably noisy all the time. Lima, Peru is loud 24/7. There is always a horn honking or someone yelling. Salem, Tamil Nadu, India on the other hand is one of the quietest place at night. After about 8p everyone is home, the monkeys are sleeping, the birds are roosting. It is QUIET. For me sound is one of the things that summons memories. Who can forget the mullahs calling me to pray in Jerusalem (not that I planned to answer but they called A LOT).

Have you ever thought that you have a "childhood soundtrack"? A series of childhood sound memories that can take you right back to the time and place where you heard that sound. It is very instructive, I think, to record some of those memories. Most people don't think about it but I bet if you sat down and gave the little gray cells a work out you could come up with a list of childhood sound memories. Give it a try. Below you will find a few that mean the most to me. I am sure that there are more but these are the ones that I think of most often. They are in no particular order of importance.

- The sound of the train going by when we are at the cottage. Takes me right back to growing up years when I would lay in my bed (the bunk bed in the hallway) and listen to the train. I know that a lot of people don't like the sound of a train whistle but it is one of my favorites.
- Mourning doves calling in the morning. That just sounds like summer to me. Especially when I am at the cottage.
- the sound of my dad winding the bazillion clocks that he has scattered around the house.
- the swishing sound of the wind in long grass. It reminds me of the wind blowing through the fields around my grandparents house in Wisconsin. Soothing.
- the sound of water lapping against the side of a boat. I am transported back to long summer days by the lake. The day stretched endlessly ahead of me with hours and hours to read and bake myself under the sun until I had skin like leather. Skin cancer? What is that?
- all the different kinds of music that we listened to when I was growing up. We got the "gamut" if that is the way to describe it. Everything from opera to the Dillards (that would be bluegrass to the uninitiated). That is most likely why I love most kinds of music today (except for rap which has no other purpose that to be annoying).
- my family laughing at the dinner table or in the car or wherever.
- the whistle that my mom used to blow to bring us home from wherever we were in the neighborhood. It was powerful and she employed it with great vigor.

OK, I am sure that there are more memories and I will post them later. Do your own Childhood soundtrack. It is fun.


  1. Deb . . . you forgot one childhood audio memory. The tick, tick, tick of "the timer."

  2. I am not very good at sitting and listening quietly. When I hear the most is when I am on my bike going down a quiet road. There is nothing else crowding my mind.

  3. Oh my word, how could I have forgotten the dreaded timer! I always managed to gag down my liver and onions before the thing rang but it was a near thing several times.


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