What Sound Do You Love?

It struck me that this week’s discussion topic should be a reprieve from the turbulent ups and downs of the political sphere—to provide a break from the action, a kind of palate cleanser or refreshment. That got me thinking about sound, specifically sounds that I love, that transport me or cause me to pause, reflect, step out of my daily mindset. 

One of my earliest memories is the sound of a train humming along the tracks, some miles away from the bunk bed where I slept on a warm summer evening. It wasn’t quite dark outside, so I’m guessing it was around 8:30 or 9 pm, and it was not long before I fell asleep. That distant hum, a gentle rumble that was like a lullaby, made me aware of other realities beyond my room. It caused me to imagine other lives, other worlds, as I heard the constant motion of the train, its base hum like a steady rhythm occasionally punctuated by a long whistle. 

Years later, that sound came rushing back when I was living amid the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania (my first newspaper job) and regularly sat in a diner where freight trains would rumble by along the Ohio River while I ate. Now and then these days, driving along the highway, I roll down the windows to listen to a freight train as its heavy boxcars barrel down the tracks and move in parallel to my car. I also savor the moments when a freight train is crossing at a nearby intersection—red lights flashing, alarm bells clanging—and I need to stop whatever I’m doing. (A lively sample here.) It’s a chance to watch—and especially to listen. To listen and remember how, many years ago, that distant rumble connected me to worlds beyond my childhood window. 

I could mention other sounds, especially from nature, like the peaceful trickle of a small creek or the deep cracks of thunder in a stormy nighttime sky. But let me ask you: What  sound do you love? Maybe it’s a memory or perhaps it’s one you travel to experience or listen to most every day. As always, I look forward to reading your comments. 


*Photo by Sergey Kucherov via Getty Images.