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Silence in the Parks


    There are places in the national park system where it's so quiet, things are so still, it seems as if you've truly managed to leave society and its noisemaking behind. The Boston Globe ran a story to that effect the other day, one in which the author marvels at the silence he discovered at Zabriskie Point.
    "You know it is quiet when you become aware of the buzzing in your ears that is unmasked by the total absence of sound. Maybe you're going insane, but you swear you could hear that shooting star fall," writes Derrick Z. Jackson.
    It is indeed an eerie  sound...or lack thereof. There are other places in the park system where you can experience that. I've heard, or rather, been exposed to, the deep silence found within Mammoth Cave National Park  and in Yellowstone's lake backcountry when not even the wind is moving.
    But I think more impressive than the sound of nothing -- for isn't that what silence is? -- are the sounds of nature uninterrupted by man-made noise. The sound of water gently lapping the shoreline at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the dry rattle of aspen leaves along the Beneath-the-Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park, the crash of the surf at Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park.
    Yep, give me a choice between the sound of nothing and that of nature and I'll gladly take the latter.


Toss in the whisper of the wind blowing through Kings Canyon... you have poetry to my ears.

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