Adjusting to the silence and wonder of the great outdoors

Moving just west of Red Deer has been quite the experience for this Red Deer born and raised guy.

In April, I began renting a suite in Poplar Ridge (okay, it’s not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but still very much feels like rural living to me). Having lived in cities for most of my life, including Calgary and Vancouver and of course Red Deer, it has proved a welcome albeit interesting and even challenging new setting.

First of all, there’s the silence. This is something I have grown used to over the past several weeks, but at first it was extremely noticeable. It’s not that Red Deer is really a noisy, bustling, frantic urban setting, but when you find yourself well outside of the City, the quiet has a subtle power all its own.

Secondly, the sounds of nature, particularly at night, are amazing as well. I remember first noticing the crickets – there’s something about it that immediately melts away the stress of any day. There is also a pond near the house where mallards tend to gather, and I’ve grown to enjoy their ‘conversations’ so to speak. It all blends together in a kind of soothing masterpiece of nature. And of course it’s completely foreign to those living in a city.

I’ve also noticed myself developing a growing appreciation for nature. Often I’ll be driving home and be absolutely amazed at the brilliance of a sunset. Many times already I’ve pulled over and taken pictures – something I rarely if ever even thought of doing when living in the City. Other times I’m struck by the stark beauty of a moonlit night. Just recently I was taking my garbage out and happened to look up at the sky. Against the dark sky, clouds were sailing past the moon and the sight was – and I know this will sound a tad melodramatic – majestic. I could have pulled out a chair and sat there for sometime just watching. There were moments when the light of the moon glowed behind the darker clouds which made its luminosity that much more dazzling. I couldn’t help but think how this was something I again rarely if ever noticed in the City.

Stars are another story. As we all know, the so-called ‘light pollution’ of communities gets in the way of city dwellers enjoying the awesome sight. When there are few lights around to get in the way, the night sky offers – time and again – a striking display of constellations plus it’s of course much easier to spot certain planets as well.

It’s amazing how fast the pace of life is these days – we often aren’t aware of it until we find ourselves in situations where there is the gift of silence. Sometimes it’s an ‘uncomfortable’ gift. I’ve talked to people who live alone and say they always like to have some source of noise in the house – perhaps the radio or TV. It can provide a sense of comfort, perhaps. Often, the thought of being alone with our thoughts – in absolute peace and quiet – seems attractive but can almost be too much in our age of non-stop distractions. We are used to noise.

Many people who live hurried, stressed out lives find it hard to virtually grind to a halt when vacation time rolls around. The very thing we sometimes need the most is the hardest to ‘adopt’ even for just a couple of weeks.

I guess where that’s my new ‘digs’ are making such a profound difference in my life. The second I turn onto the road that takes me to my turn-off, I feel calmer. Things begin to slide into a more reasonable, calmer perspective. I pass wide open fields, small ponds lining sections of the highway, and patches of shrubbery and trees.

Perhaps Mother Teresa said it best in her reflections of the miracles we find in creation.

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”