The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 4, 2000


Carlisle Comments: The Artist's Ear

Outside my Highland studio window I can hear the whiny hum of the little tractor buzzing around the school buildings. It reminds me of a bee going from blossom to blossom in a flower-laden garden. It is reassuring to know the maintenance man is taking care to plow the walkways clear, scraping the snow off the surface so it won't ice up. The sound indicates the world is going along at its daily pace, work is being accomplished.

The steam coming up the radiator pipes clanks occasionally to let me know it, too, is working. Every so often the blower comes on, a soft whirring sound, and the air moves. I hear the door downstairs open and shuffling sounds begin. Another artist is carting materials in for the day's work. My microwave beeps cheerfully to let me know a hot cup of tea is ready.

After I've worked a morning full of drawing and painting, the noon whistle will sound and I'll imagine workers turning off their machines, laying down their tools and nooning. Perhaps it'll be a lunch pail with a hot thermos or a paper bag with giant sandwiches or a store-bought lunch and treat from Daisy's.

I used to hear a strange sound on NPR every so often and finally identified it as their version of the noon whistle. It was mildly irritating, and then, after I knew what it was, I grew fond of it and found myself clock-watching so as to tune in for it and the noon news.

Last week, the wind shrieked around the building in great gusts. When I peeked out from behind the shades, drawn to keep in the warmth, I saw snow drifting and whipping by in undulating swirls. The windsong was both threatening and exhilarating.

How much connection with my spot on earth I would miss had I the radio on all the time or filled my ears with music, talk or video soundtracks. "Don't you listen to music while you work?" someone asks. "Not all the time," I reply "There is so much else to hear and I need to work to my own rhythms."

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito