A. Ray Lee
Nature’s symphony skillfully blends together sounds that are soothing to the mind and soul. I have an old CD that captures and combines those sounds in quiet harmony which I often play as I sit in quietness, or as background music when I read or write. The sounds are those I often heard as a boy in the 1940s growing up on a small cotton farm but which have been greatly silenced by the destruction of habitat.
The producer of the CD has brought together voices of nature and plays them in harmony. The sound of crows cawing in the background resonates. A chickadee joyfully sings as a dove coos, and a cardinal joins in. A sparrow joins them. Crickets chirp an undertone. Frogs sing their praise after rain has refreshed them. The rain itself can be heard gently falling. Water gurgling as it flows over stones gives fullness to the sound. Other voices of nature are captured and added. These are accompanied by a softly strummed guitar.
All of these were abundant when we moved onto what is now known as Lee Road in 1941. The road itself was little more than a wagon trail running north from Falkville Pike three miles or so and dead ending on Nance Ford Road. It meandered through woods and cotton fields crossing several small streams along the way. It was barely passable by motor vehicles in the dry seasons and only by wagon in winter. More than likely if a car managed to come as far as our house we could assume the driver was either lost are coming to visit us.
I have been told my mother’s aunts, who had raised her, complained to my father for moving her “back into the sticks.” Indeed, there were only five other families on the road. But over the years things have greatly changed. Houses have continued to multiply. The land has been transformed from small fields bordered by stands of timber, overgrown ditch banks, and thickets clogged with honeysuckle vines. All of those coverlets of nature disappeared over the years as farms were developed and found a way to make these areas productive.
The road itself has long been paved and has proven to be a chosen shortcut for many drivers. Cars, tractors, and cycles motor down it ignoring the 45 mph signs on a regular basis. In the past months, one of the last wooded areas adjoining the road has been decimated to make room for more homes even though the area borders the flood plain of Flint Creek. The clamor of dump trucks hauling fill dirt and crushed limestone has been a nuisance.
All the trees have been removed by giant machines with the exception of a few saved for accents on the surveyed lots. Large fires have consumed the unusable timber. The voices of nature have been silenced. There are those who would say this has all been done in the name of progress, but I choose to disagree. I miss the sounds of undisturbed nature.