Tuesday, August 20, 2019

rainy season here, a storm is coming in from the east, and there's lots of lightning, so the puppy's nervous and giving shrill barks. we have to settle him down, because it's actually quite calming, and soothing, when you move out from texas, where it's a hundred and six and never really rains at all. here, it's rained almost all month, since the end of june really, and it's never really gotten over eighty five. heaven for me, i say, especially since, in my old age, i'd begun suffering from swoons in the heat. i moved to texas knowing full well that it would be a little powerful, the heat, but yet when it came right down to it, i'd gotten old, and it was a little too much.

so here, the rainy season, or the "monsoons" as they call them, last through july and august and then pretty much shut down for the year; we don't get much rain september to june. but this is enough. the green grasses are growing wildly and the trees are sinking their roots; the cows are wandering around blissfully because there is grass in literally every valley. i have to keep the car windows shut, and the shed door shut. i'm pulling weeds constantly to try to get the right green stuff to grow up on our land. i'm getting certain smaller trees out, so that the larger ones will have a better chance.

i've had a rough bout with my hearing. what happened was, i had a distended septum - the wall separating the nostrils was bent over to one side - so that when i started using the c-pap, it blew air up into my ears on one side, and got hopelessly clogged on the other. this was not good and was a pattern that went on for about a year and a half. the c-pap people adjusted, fussed, gave me different masks, and never quite got on to the fact that it was doing different things in different nostrils. i felt like i was hearing everything through a swimming pool, but i knew it was bad as well, and might be damaging my hearing - in fact it might have. but it didn't really hurt, so much as just cover everything with the sound of things coming through water. and amplifying it through hearing aids didn't really help - it was still coming through water.

by now my hearing aids have been adjusted from "mild hearing loss" to "severe hearing loss" - in other words, i have them cranked to high amplification - but i still feel like sounds are coming through a swimming pool. why would i want to amplify that? i think of the things around me that i can amplify, and really, i'd rather just have them off. and i'd rather have the c-pap off too, if it's going to damage my hearing. i just feel like i'll take what little hearing i have left and enjoy every minute of it.

but this morning, a friend put the ashokan farewell song on facebook, and i actually tried listening to it, and i actually heard it, pretty well. it was mostly just violins, no other things, and my tone perception is still not perfect, but i feel like, since i ditched the c-pap a couple of days ago (over my wife's protests), my hearing is steadily coming back. it may be that my eardrum is just relaxing a little and healing. but in any case, i heard the song, not perfectly, but enough.

so i said to my friend, the friend who posted the song, i have a story about this song. it's not that i was in the civil war, no, or that i was on the pbs team that put together the documentary that so famously used the song (which was made up for the show) to portray the civil war. no, but i'll tell the story.

there was this violinist in carbondale, and i knew about him, but i didn't know him personally. he played at the unitarian church which was right near my house. one night he played ashokan farewell, and immediately after, died. people were horrified, and called the ambulance and all, but to no avail. he was dead, and there was nothing they could do but have him hauled off and have a service for him.

of course, people said how terrible it was. he was a popular man, loved by many, and people grieved over his death. i didn't really know the guy, as i said, so i felt less grief perhaps than most. but, over time, the image of his playing that song and then dying immediately after, stuck in my mind. i figured, that wasn't a bad way to go.

there are several performers who have died on stage; one of my favorites is miriam makeba, an african singer. her voice is so beautiful and so haunting that you know she was born to sing, and so, it's not a surprise perhaps that she'd die singing too. an honor in fact, to die, basically, singing to god. all singing, really, is singing to god, in my view.

so this afternoon i'm driving back up the hill, and it's forty miles, and it was raining off and on, mostly sprinkling. my ears are still not well, they feel a little clogged up. and my youngest daughter, number ten, was singing in her highest, squeakiest voice, all the way. but no problem. i took out my hearing aids, and, though it was still high and squeaky, at least it wasn't amplified, and there was a gentle rain to counteract it. when it's all over, you only get to hear so much, and when my hearing aids are out, at least i feel like i've got my genuine hearing, no matter how flawed, and i'm getting some of what's out there. when you're driving you mostly need to sense when someone is beside you; you can do this, on a two lane, without hearing. but with my limited hearing, i actually become more sensitive to what is out there, so i actually hear just as much sometimes as i do with the hearing aids in there. with the hearing aids in there, i hear everything amplified, and road noises bother me, and i have trouble picking out words from what comes at me as just amplified noise. i'm ready to just pitch them, and see if i can get my hearing any better.

my wife hears the sounds of birds - four or five distinct kinds - and of elk bugling, which apparently they do all year. we hear cows calling to their babies and rabbits kind of furtively jumping through the grass, trying to make sure none of their predators are anywhere near. i don't hear most of this, even with the hearing aids. and when i do hear stuff, it's often stuff i don't want to hear, like kids yelling, or dogs shrilly barking at the cows. sometimes i feel like the damage that has been done, has been more damage to the quality of what i usually hear, than damage to my ability to hear it. i still have the ability. it's just funneled through this swimming pool.


Post a Comment

<< Home