Things I love hearing in life include old John Deere tractors, slowly idling, to hear wheezing and chugging of the old two-piston engines.
It goes back to childhood during my boot heel of my southeast Missouri upbringing when my dad would not allow Farmall Red tractors be brought on our farm.
Best-sounding John Deere huffing and puffing came on cold winter days when Daddy would hook large belts to our old Model A as a power source to saw timber into planks, which were used to expand our barn for more pigs and cows.
That model was the last one we had with a large fly wheel that took stout grown men to spin in order to crank the vintage tractors of the 1940s.
Sounds are my main reasons of loving to attend the annual Eagleville Pioneer Power Days when highly collectable vintage tractors and engines are brought in from throughout the southeast to reconstruct the hey-day era of the American farm life and landscape that will never be seen or heard again.
My wife, Pat, and closest friends know I love getting up in pre-dawn hours and taking off for the woods. It’s one of the biggest perks of semi-retired life.
They assume my main mission is to take nature pictures with my trusty Nikon and lens that help me capture the beauty of our beautiful Middle Tennessee landscape.
What they don’t realize, is it’s the quietness I also love listening too, while walking softly, for example, on the board walks of the Murfree Springs wildlife refuge to listen to the swamp critters and beautiful birds in the heart of downtown Murfreesboro.
I love hearing the squawk of majestic great blue heron there.
The surrounding beauty proves my point when presenting my outdoor photography at shows. In picturesque Middle Tennessee, we don’t have to journey far to see and hear Mother Nature’s beauty all around us.
My latest outdoor photographic challenge is trying to capture the image of a large old owl that sometimes sits atop our home.
Pat described the last time we actually saw the owl while it sat perched on our roof, outlined perfectly as the approaching night’s darkening dusk settled over our urban neighborhood.
“That owl must stand 2 feet tall, for it’s one big ole’ owl,” she said recently to church friends Robert and Carol Gentry, Sid and Mary Sue Salmons, and Helen and Jerry Cates.
So far, that wise old owl has evaded my camera. But what the owl doesn’t know is how much our dog, Honey Bear, and I enjoy listening to its rapid-fire “hoots, hoots, hoots” echoing in the quiet dark of night.
The gurgling of fast-flowing creek water is another sound I cherish hearing while in the quiet of Mother Nature’s bosom.
That was dramatically accentuated the day Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon and Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick drove fellow amateur photographer Hooper Penuel and I to Short Mountain, the mystical origin of the meandering Stones River that resulted in formation of Woodbury, Readyville, Murfreesboro, Old Jefferson, Walter Hill and other settlements that dot the landscape in present-day Cannon, Wilson and Rutherford counties.
I love going to the side of Short Mountain, reputed to reign as Middle Tennessee’s highest elevation point, and quietly listen to the gurgling sound of the modest little spring that evolves into mighty Stones River down below.
During a recent trip, I softly instructed my grandchildren Georgia Grace, Gabe and Zeke to be quiet as we approached Stewart Creek, one of my secret, silent personal bastion sites for outdoor photography.
History buff Toby Francis credits meandering, cold-flowing Stewart Creek with resulting in the first-grain gristmills that led to settlements, known today as Smyrna and La Vergne.
I asked for quiet from the grandchildren as we moseyed up to the banks on the backside of historic old Sewart Air Force Base because dozens of great blue and black crown night herons assemble daily to fish for their survival.
It’s one of my secret places to capture nature in photography – an area hidden in the hustle and bustle of a modern city.
If you listen close, you too can hear the quiet beauty of Mother Nature.