Grow Write Guild #5: Listen


One rainy Saturday morning six years ago I was kicked out of my apartment while a camera crew was there filming an interview with Davin. With nothing to do and no real direction, I found myself headed towards my community garden plot, which was then just a few blocks away. The garden was (and still is) an almost secret place tucked between an alley, the railroads tracks, and a beer store.

The documentary crew had been following me around for a few days and I was feeling contemplative and grateful for an hour of solitude to be alone with my thoughts. I didn’t have any work to do at the garden (a rarity) so I strolled around slowly, looking at little things. Eventually I caught myself standing still, just listening. I had never done that before. Here in the city we are always surrounded by sound and I think one of the ways we adapt to the constant assault on our senses is by tuning things out as if we are wearing earmuffs. The first sound I caught was the rhythmic, almost soothing hum of the beer store refrigerators. I had spent countless hours working in the garden and had never noticed the sound before. I heard car tires over pavement in the parking lot and the sound of car doors slamming. I heard a train zooming past, drowning out all other sounds for a minute. And then, when it got far enough away I heard crickets, small insects, people yelling, and my friend the mockingbird that often sits on a tower over the tracks imitating other birds and other sounds it picks up along the tracks.

I realized in that hour that there were ways of experiencing the garden that I had overlooked and taken for granted. Since that morning I have been more mindful to experience the gardens that I visit with my ears as well as my eyes.

Grow Write Guild Prompt #5: What does your garden sound like?

Use the following questions and strategies to help spark different approaches to this prompt. Feel free to ignore this if you don’t need it.

    Further Notes & Questions:

  • Consider making a sound recording to accompany your writing.
  • You might also try reading and recording the response that you eventually write to this prompt out in the garden.
  • Try sitting or standing in the garden while you write this.
  • Try writing this without going out into your garden. Turn this into an exercise in what you think it sounds like based on memory.
  • Write about multiple gardens comparing the different ways that they sound. What do the different sounds say about the gardens?
  • What do you like about the sound of your garden? Is there something that you dislike?

The Grow Write Guild is a creative writing club for people who love to garden. Everyone is welcome to participate! Click over to the Grow Write Guild FAQ to learn more about it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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14 thoughts on “Grow Write Guild #5: Listen

  1. I’m very attuned to the sounds of my garden. To the first croaking of the frogs to let us know that spring is really here! Living in the boreal forest – the breeding area for many songbirds I delight in their joyous songs!The busy chatter of the squirrels warns me that I’m coming into their territory or one of my cats is. Then there is a soft meow of my cat loving when we’re outside together. Occasionally I hear the call of the raven that something is happening in the bush.Sometimes I just love to stop and just listen!

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