Listening to the wind

Several months ago I had a conversation with a woman whose husband was a shift worker about the things their family did to make the schedule work. She said that one of the best things that they did was to purchase black out curtains that made their bedroom very dark to enable sleeping during the day. I commented that I seem to have no trouble falling asleep with the lights on. Although we turn out the lights when we sleep and I don’t mind the darkness, I have no trouble going to sleep when my wife is staying up a bit later than I and she needs the light to do something in the bedroom.

I am also able to sleep with a fair amount of noise. I attribute this ability to having grown up in a family with plenty of brothers. I didn’t have the experience, now very common, of having my own bedroom. I always shared my bedroom with a brother until I went off to college, where I had a roommate. Interestingly enough, I had a hard time with roommates in college. Until I married, I didn’t succeed in finding a roommate whose lifestyle was anywhere near mine. Part of the problem was rule infractions. I wasn’t much for bending the rules and I managed to find roommates who wanted to keep all kinds of illegal substances in the room including beer and marijuana. It wasn’t just that I seemed more focused on my studies then they. It wasn’t just that we kept different hours. It was that I was pretty sure they had the ability to really get me into trouble. It never happened. We were never busted. But the fear bothered me. I changed roommates twice in the first year of college. I’m pretty sure that the housing director at the school saw me as a problem. He was probably relieved that I saved the money for a private room for my second year of college.

I’ve developed a pretty good ability to sleep with a fair amount of light and noise. When our children were little, I learned to get up and respond to their crying, but I was slow to do so and I can remember trying to figure out how my wife could hear sounds that I had not heard. She had a special ability. When our kids were 2 and 4 we moved into a home where the Amtrak train came right behind the house twice each night - once heading west and then heading east. It blew its whistle right behind our house because of an upcoming street crossing. She learned to seep through the train. I woke when the train was late. But that same person who could sleep through the train passing behind the house and blowing its whistle, would wake instantly if a 4-year-old whispered, “Mommy!” It was amazing.

Thoughts of sleep an noises came to my mind last night. It was windy yesterday and the wind continued through the night. We live in a pretty sheltered place with plenty of pine trees, so we don’t get wind speeds that are as high as they get out on the plains, but it was windy enough yesterday that, after the fourth or fifth time of chasing our garbage container down the street, I decided to put it back away and wait until next week to put it out for pickup. We have a large container that will easily hold two weeks worth of garbage and it is cold enough that there will be no odor. Some of the neighbors, who didn’t have the luxury of being able to stay home on a Monday, had to go down wind quite a ways to find their containers.

The wind continued though the night and I woke a couple of times and lay in bed listening to the sound of the wind. It felt good. It is a pleasant sound to me. I was warm and safe in my bed and the wind was outside.

I grew up in a place with a lot more wind than we get here in the hills. I’ve written about some of my experiences with wind in other journal entries. The sound of the wind in the trees seems very natural to me. And, when I was a kid, those were cottonwood trees, which are pretty good at cracking and shedding big branches. It can be pretty frightening to listen to the sounds of big winds in those trees. But I grew up with it and though there were a couple of instances of branches hitting and causing damage to the roof, there was never any danger to us inside our home.

I also grew up next to the river. Living far away from running after at this phase of my life, one of the treats of being on vacation is getting to sleep somewhere next to a river. The sound of the rushing water, like the sound of wind, is a kind of lullaby to my ears.

I think that I am attuned to sleep when the sounds are the sounds of nature. I’m not sure I’d enjoy living off the end of a runway of a major airport. I can remember lying in bed as a child and listening for the sound of our father’s airplane returning home, but that was something different entirely. I did learn to sleep with the train tracks behind the backyard fence, but was careful about the location of the next home that we purchased.

Like many other things, different people have different things that interrupt their sleep. I don’t know if I have neighbors who found it difficult to sleep last night because the wind was making more noise than usual. Perhaps they have ear plugs or other ways to dim the sound. Perhaps they are like me and enjoy the sound of the wind. At any rate, I woke a bit ahead of my alarm this morning feeling refreshed and enjoying the feeling of lying in bed and listening to the wind.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!