Friday, June 10, 2011

White Noise

Here I am, cliffside along the north fork of a Washington river, one touted as the least polluted in the state. The setting is idyllic: comfortable home balanced on a cliff above the river, surrounded with rain forest cedars, fir, and ferns. A bald eagle flies by at eye level, her nest a quarter mile up-river. Osprey screech, patrol and perch along this stretch of water. They fly below my chair here on the deck. Great blue heron drags his ceremonial grey through the shallows next to a deep pool, turning fishing into an artform. Blue-black stellar jays jump and sprint and zip through the woods, balancing here, stabbing there, in a frenetic forage quite out of place with this spot's serenity. A water dipper does her amazing snorkel tricks in the rapid river below me.

One of the many reasons I love this spot is the ambient noise of the river. The river is omni-present, day or night, with windows open or closed. The river's noise blocks out other, less serene, sounds, like the many trucks hauling rock and soil up the hill just yards away from the house and the whiney motorcycles on the river road below me.

The river sounds mask all that I don't want to hear, all the sounds of my fellow humans who also savor this precious part of the planet. It's "white noise" for this serene spot.

I really like the phrase "white noise," as it connotes a sense of purity and good intention. It conveys the idea that this noise will sooth, not harm, the listener. That's very different from the outrageous blast of ad that shatters my calm while watching a television show. That is not white noise; that is the blackest, most evil, most treacherous noise I know of. White noise is very different from the deep thump of base coming from a low-riding Honda two blocks from my house. It's very different from the inane chatter spurting from a truck's radio, blather I cannot escape at a downtown intersection.

I like and use white noise. My white noise machine offers several choices. I can zone out with crickets, light rain, surf, heart beat, or non-descript steady burr. Any of these can wipe out for me the distractions of intermittent rattle from my environs. I can pretend I'm somewhere else or just lose myself in the redundancy of the vibrations coming from this small device.

White noise is, I think, big business. Searching for white noise info, I came across a site that offers these white noise water options:

Spring Water
Big rushing waves of water in a stream
Lapping water and engine noise as longboat cruises down river
Water filling sink at rapid pace
Big rushing waves of water in a stream
Water dripping at a medium pace
Big, frothy splash in an indoor swimming pool
Water lapping and splashing against boulders
Ocean surf sound with whales singing.
Medium rain on concrete or pavement in a quiet city
River, rooster and birds
Early morning by a river with dog and birds.
River flowing over rocks
Ducks quack and splash around in a pond
A chorus of frogs in a pond
Creaking boats, lapping water
Trickling water from a mountain spring
Forest ambience after rain shower with ocean surf in the background
Slow single drops of water
Waterfall (many sizes)
Rain dripping onto a rain gutter with the sound of cars driving on wet street
Waves (waves can jump, soar, surge, swell, spray, drip or pound)
Water trickle (with sewer / car sounds)

I'm thinking I can find just about any white noise related to water that I want. I'm thinking I won't order the white noise of water trickle with sewer and car sounds. It's true: I prefer the original white noise, the cascade of river I'm enjoying right now, but I feel comforted understanding that so many options of white noise are available to me. I'll sleep better just knowing that.