I decided to take a daytime walk by myself along a wooded nature trail. Pretty risky in this day and age for a woman to stroll solo, I must admit. It was one of those busy family weekends when all I craved was two hours of solitude. So I turned to my hubby and pleaded. “The best thing you can give me right now is the gift of childcare. Would you take the kids for a bit?”
Normally when I’m in the great outdoors, I prefer to take my hearing aids off. The sound of wind blowing through my behind-the-ear devices unnerves me. ‘WHOOSH’ is the most excruciating white noise. I must’ve been in a hurry to become one with nature, or I didn’t want to walk alone without a way to hear well. Either way, I had both hearing aids in when I pulled into the parking lot of a local nature center.
As soon as my flip-flops hit the trails (not the best hiking footwear, but I was in a hurry for my solitude), I heard a series of beeps in my right ear. Then silence. One of my hearing aid batteries had died, which meant I could only hear out of my left ear. I walked with caution since I now only heard half of what lurked in the trees, and my thin-soled shoes struggled on bumpy gravel paths. Occasionally, my left ear caught the rustling of tree leaves, whooshing wind, or other hikers chatting as they sped by in their Nike best. It was enough environmental sound to put me at ease and not worry about personal safety.
All was peaceful. I could breathe deeply, reflect. Twenty minutes of the walk were spent not walking, but gazing into a shallow creek. I watched a small fish swimming amid rocks and murky water. I was tempted to dive in with the guppy, but then noticed wind-blown garbage mixed with some of those rocks and started walking again.
On my way back to the parking lot, my ears began hallucinating. I heard chldren laughing and squealing far away into the trees. I stopped to listen, and the chatter ceased. My flip-flops took off again, and the banter continued. I hadn’t passed any walkers since before the guppy creek, and I had a ways to go before hitting the parking lot where folks surely congregated. The hooting and hee-hawing sounded like my kids, who were at home with their daddy four miles away. Was my one working hearing aid that powerful?
Standing in front of dense foliage, I stood and observed anything living and moving. Flying objects, like tiny airplanes, darted in and out of the tops of trees. They moved effortlessly and blared their sirens with each descent. “HEE! HEE! HAW! HAW!”
The tiny flying things were painted deep blue and velvety gray. No hallucination. Just beautiful bluejays and robins, singing and soaring amid treetops.
For the first time since my hearing loss diagnosis 10 years ago, I could hear squawking and hooting, shrill whistling and soft sopranos. The symphony of birds.
What a miracle for me to hear. At least in my left ear.