Fall arrived officially Sept. 22. But the day before, the temperature at the Hummell Abode dropped enough to prompt the semi-annual Opening of the Windows.
The ceremony allowed us to turn off the AC and take advantage of the crisp coolness of the fresh Lowcountry air.
Not only was it good to open the house and let old air out and fresh new air flow through it, sending excess CO2 out, but it was time for nature’s marvelous melodies to be heard indoors.
The first sounds we heard were the birds.
I love their songs and am learning to identify various species by their sounds. I’ve learned that it’s the Carolina wrens that make that “chirpity chirpity chirpity chirp” call.
The wrens are also picky eaters, by the way. They are never satisfied with the seeds in our feeders, so they flick out the many types they don’t want. The seed garden below the feeders is a banquet for other critters, though.
Beautiful cardinals are frequent fliers. They identify themselves with a song of “birds birds birds.”
We’ve come to match the abundant chickadees with their quick, high-pitched “fee-bee, fee-bay.”
An occasional visitor is the Tufted Titmouse, who seems to enjoy all types of seeds in the feeder. I’ve only recently learned that the “Peter, Peter, Peter!” call I’ve been hearing for years comes from these birds.
I still haven’t figured out what or where the “Judy Judy Judy” bird is, but it’s a common one. There’s also the sharp-sounding “cheater cheater” bird. I’m not sure if this one is accusing someone else. Maybe it’s the reply to the softer-tone of another bird’s “I miss you, miss you.”
(Is it odd that we translate our birds’ songs into recognizable English words or phrases? Do birds in Germany or Japan or Russia makes sounds in those languages?)
If you read this column just a couple of issues ago, you know of my affinity for squirrels. Have you ever heard them “bark” at one another? With the windows open, I can hear their gruff chatter in the treetops, perhaps rejecting unwanted advances or maybe protecting babies, or arguing over dinner.
We’ve heard mourning doves with their slow, soulful cooing, and loud grackles, whose “ack ack ack” sound imitates its name.
Often in the late afternoon, we hear our resident barred owls calling one another from treetop to treetop: “Who, who, who’ll cook for you?” We also have become adept at spotting them in the live oaks around us, and we are amused when we see one flying low overhead.
At night, the crickets and cicadas announce their presence with a delightful and hours-long cacophony. After a good rain, the multitude of frogs in a little “pond” out back croak to high heaven!
In addition to nature sounds, we also hear the welcome sounds of a good neighborhood: Children laughing as they disembark from the school bus; the neighbor guy taking his Harley out for his daily ride; dogs barking at other dogs while owners are walking them; and the friendly “Hello” of cyclists as they pass a neighbor’s house.
Of course, with windows open wide all day, there are other, not-so-pleasant sounds to be heard in our neighborhoods: Multiple mow-and-blow squads up and down the street seemingly daily; the occasional siren of a fire truck screaming down a nearby road; someone’s loud music (never to anyone else’s taste) on his way out to a party or home.
I’ve never been a fan of leaf blowers, but if their occasional obnoxious noise is the price I have to pay for the cheerful, natural sounds of the great outdoors, I’m happy to pony up.