On nice days, I take a walk with my sons along the subdivision trail running around our neighborhood. The trail meanders the periphery of what is suburban designed living space and the still undeveloped land surviving in pockets around the blocks. One part of the trail we often walk is up a steep hill that overlooks a tract of scrub brush and mesquite trees stretching all the way to the nearest major street. The land is one of the last few places the developers have not bulldozed, and I like to gaze out across the native land whenever we walk around. Though I gaze out at the small patch of woods, I oftentimes do not notice the little things that set this area apart from others we walk past. However, this day as we walked, I tried to concentrate and be mindful of what I was seeing, hearing, and feeling as we progressed up the hill.
What I noticed above all were the sounds. Most times my mind stretches out like a drifting cloud, touching upon memories and daydreams without a care in the world. But this time I did not let my mind roam free, but simply watched and listened as I pushed my sons’ double-stroller up the way. It was here I really listened for the first time and noticed the sounds carry across the woods and echo down to our neighborhood below. They were the sounds of kids playing outside on the playground at the school on the other side of the subdivision. The sounds of passing traffic on a street a half mile away. The sounds of bulldozer beeping as construction crews went about razing another area of land for more cookie-cutter houses. All the sounds carry across the vast space, and I cannot see their origins, only hearing the auditory glimpses of moments lost in time.
When I hear the sounds carrying through the woods, I have to pause in nostalgia of my own rural town childhood where faraway night noises carried through the empty streets as I tried to sleep. Those hidden noises of highways and trains always gave me a sense of comfort, just like these noises today. For a moment, I am a child with my toddlers, and we are all listening to the same thing. As I start walking once again, I hope my sons remember those same sounds and draw comfort from them as parts of their childhood memories.
This is the second article my Subdivision Journal series. I am trying to use mindfulness to observe nature in my neighborhood. For the first article click here.
Carl Wade Thompson is a poet, essayist, and the graduate writing tutor at Texas Wesleyan University. He has published poetry and memoir essays in The Mayo Review, The Concho River Review, One in Four, Anak Sastra, The Galway Review, The Blue Collar Review, Piker Press, The Eunoia Review, Blue Minaret, Nebo Literary Magazine, Alphelion Literary Webzine, and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. He lives on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. His poems explore the link between the urban and the rural.
Photo by Jozef Polc