Over the last week, we have been studying different types of sound, along with how the concept of sound has completely changed since the Industrial Revolution and introduction of modern technology. Living in New York City is probably not the best place to find natural silence with all the noises that occur in a large city/urban environment. However, I am lucky to have a place where I do often hear silence- or about as silent as NYC can be. My apartment in the Upper East Side has a private outdoor patio with space to garden and entertain. I spent my 5 minutes of uninterrupted listening sitting on my porch.
It is a warm day and I decided to have a seat at my table and listen to the noises around me. I sit and drink my coffee- it is 8:30am and I hear birds chirping. I also hear my neighbor’s dog start barking because he sees me outside the window. The barking stops after about 20 seconds. There is a nice warm breeze that is blowing the potted plants back and forth. I do not hear any traffic noises. Just the sound of people in the floors above me moving around to begin their day. I hear the slight sound of an AC unit in the distance. I also hear the sound of a wind chime that belongs to one of my surrounding neighbors. I am able to take some deep breaths and feel somewhat part of nature, surrounded by plants that seem to disguise the high-rise apartment complex buildings around me.
I start to hear the sound of running water, probably coming from another apartment complex nearby. Still no noises of traffic though, which is why I find this outdoor space such a great escape in this concrete jungle we live in. I continue to hear the sound of birds chirping and the wind chime. It is very peaceful and I think I am going to start coming out here in the mornings more often. I gaze up at the tall building in the distance and wonder how I am not hearing any sounds from it.
Finally, I begin to hear the sound of humans talking- most likely from one the buildings int the distance. I cannot make out what they are saying because the noise is far away but I can hear a man and a woman talking. My next door neighbor walks outside to water his plants soon after. He sees me and waves. I wave back, not to be rude. “Beautiful morning” he says and then walks back into his apartment. I finish up my cup of coffee, take some deep breaths, and go back inside to get ready for the day.
I am very lucky to have this outdoor space which I retreat to often on nice days. It is a nice escape and about is close to natural silence as you can find in NYC. These outdoor spaces are so sought after in NYC and I understand why. The idea of escaping into a somewhat natural environment from a loud and crowded city is very appealing. And my patio almost feels like it is sound proof from the urban traffic noises.