Singing Chipping Sparrow. Photo by Distant Hill Gardens.

Singing Chipping Sparrow. Photo by Distant Hill Gardens.

In June, we held an Introduction to Biomimicry Education Training workshop on Thompson Island, Boston, MA. As we do in all of our workshops, whether with young children, teachers, or petroleum engineers, we spent time quietly, individually observing nature. It’s always an eye-opener, so to speak. But this time, I wanted to focus on a different sense than sight, my sense of hearing.

I’m a birder and recognize many birds by their songs and calls. This time I wanted to focus on all sounds, including human ones, and compare our sounds with those of the other sounds in nature. I found that ours were often sudden, loud, and discordant–the sound of a weed trimmer, a child yelling, a vehicle beeping as it backed up. Nature’s were less harsh, and more rhythmic, focused, quieter. Organisms appear in most cases to select their volume and frequency to be heard over the other sounds in the area.

Spending time listening is great training for really tuning in. See if you can hear an individual leaf flutter in the wind, or hear the bubbling of water at the edge of a beach while also listening to the waves breaking farther out. This takes real focus, and I’m not there yet.

This week, I’m in California with people taking the Biomimicry Specialist course. I’ll practice my listening, but I also want to find out what my nose can detect and what different parts of my body feel when they touch something. This can bring me closer to nature, to the way we probably relied on all of our senses long ago. However I’ll save testing my sense of taste for when I’m in my home habitat and know the organisms better.

Tap into nature anywhere: