Walking quietly in nature

Major Blunder contemplates the value of silence while bush walking in Nelson – with his cellphone turned off, of course.

One recently had the opportunity to spend an hour walking in the Maitai Valley above Nelson, Gentle Reader, visiting the site of New Zealand’s most-recently proposed ecological island – predator-proof fence pending.

A truly marvellous place, filled with the sounds of water, wind and birdsong, particularly tui on this occasion.  The group contained one child, two young adults – one despises the flippant term teenager as being too readily used as a dismissive – and several others.

What was most notable was how differently we experienced the wilderness of uncut, bush-clad hillsides.

The child was looking all about with enthusiasm, chatting as the occasion arose; the young adults were chattering like magpies, playing with cell-phones – which rarely found signal – only pausing in wonderment and appreciation at the odd dramatic mini-vista when crossing the waters or passing a clearing; and the silent generation was moving quietly through the trees, soaking in the pleasurable sense of relative silence and enjoying the feel of clean air and sunshine.

One grew up as the next in a line of silent generations.  Not silent about issues; protests are a vitally necessary part of the form of political system practiced in most of the Commonwealth.  Certainly not silent about social or moral wrongs either, nor about standing up for those unable, unwilling or too terrified to do it for themselves.  Rather generations that appreciate actual silence for its own sake, as a tool to refocus one’s thoughts on what is important, or to recharge one’s reservoirs of social nicety that can run rather low when all about is constant, extraneous, irritating, often pointless, unending noise.

What truly alarms one is the inability of generations Y, Z and Now, to cope with being “cut off” from technology.  Woe betide the individual who suggests “switching off” accessibility via cell phone, i-pad, smart phone or bio-implant.  Oh, that’s right, we have yet to reach that level of dependence … or have we?

What was noted during our walk was that said young people became quieter on the return, began looking more closely at their surroundings, were less raucous in general until the horseless charabanc was reached.  Of course, they may merely have been worn out by inhaling all that outdoor air, or perhaps the very feel of the place was beginning to seep into them – it is, after all, quite special.

As one of the silent generations, one has always found that when your long walk at the beach, hike in the bush, fishing trip or long session of gardening is finished, there is a desire to retain the silence for as long as possible.  Long drives home may well have the radio off, few words being spoken as you bask in that glorious sense of space that we as New Zealanders take for granted, and that visitors to these shores from more populous nations often find so amazingly refreshing.

One is pleased to have learnt to walk quietly in Nature, Gentle Reader, whether or not for hunting, often just for the sense of merging with one’s surroundings in a most relaxing fashion.  One can recommend it to your most serious contemplation; the value of silence is quite immeasurable.

One remains, as ever, your most obedient servant –

Major Blunder, Officer Commanding, Fifth Waikato Dragoons Regiment, Northern Command, Alf’s Imperial Army.  Humour in Uniform.  Visit the website here.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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