I’m in a No Man’s Land.
About 100 yards off to my left, the Rappahannock is flowing over rocks and ledges, and the drone of falling water is a constant hiss and gurgle of background noise.
Several miles to my right, I hear a similar drone, lower pitch, with more complex notes of countless engines and tires on what (given the hour) can only be Interstate 95.
Both are about the same volume. Neither can drown the other out. But lying here in a tent, I’m physically and metaphorically between worlds. I’ve been working hard all week, friends and I drove far to get here – tomorrow I’ll be on the river. Now, I’m listening to both streams.
There are geese on the Rappahannock here. We saw them earlier, maybe 20, maybe more. Adults and fledged chicks. I hear them out there – occasionally one goose will honk and call, occasionally a group of them get disturbed by something and all clamor about it.
The geese live in the same world of between that I do. They don’t know what “man-made” is. They’ve heard the Interstate for their entire lives, as did their parents, their grandparents, and countless generations. The sound is part of a tapestry that’s just part of home to them. They live on the river, but very much in civilization.
There’s a raccoon here too – he visited 5 times before nightfall, testing our defenses, patiently waiting for us to sleep. He knows how we behave. People camping here are part of his routine.
All of us, me, the geese, the raccoon, the river, the Interstate, are all unavoidably linked in the same little perfectly normal pocket of existence.
So why is it that the sound of rushing water on one side is enticing, relaxing, soothing, and the equally loud sound of traffic on the other is the most annoying thing I can think of right now?
And do the geese and raccoon agree?
Get Out There