A.C. Snow

Savoring the rare gifts of sounds – Snow

After a recent hearing test, the results of which were not encouraging, I have a new awareness of the value of the five senses. We tend to take them for granted until we are confronted by the possibility that we might be losing one.

That reality reminded me of some of my favorite sounds:

▪ As a child, the whistle of a train as I lay in bed in an upstairs bedroom of the big farmhouse, drifting off to sleep, half-dreaming of the time when I would ride a train and visit those “far away places with strange-sounding names.” (I had no idea then that Uncle Sam would later pay my fare in exchange for the chunk of my youth spent on the long road to Tokyo during World War II.)

▪ The soft, soothing sound of the tide kissing the beach, coming and going, all night long during beach vacations in a condo bedroom overlooking the Atlantic.

▪ The first song of the wood thrush in the June twilight from the woodland behind our house. Poet Robert Browning described birdland’s sweetest solo thusly:

That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,

Lest you should think he never could recapture

The first fine careless rapture!

▪ What better-sounding sound than “and in conclusion” from a long-winded speaker who had nothing of consequence to say but said it anyway?

▪ The sounds of children at play at the nearby elementary school.

▪ And, as on my couch I lie, there comes from across the misty marshes of time, the unforgettable sound of “Hup! Hup! Hup!” from a despised drill sergeant in Keesler Field, Miss.

Finally, if we’re fortunate, one of the sweetest sounds we can ever hear is “Good night, honey” from someone who loves us.

Obit surprises

I don’t know at what age newspaper subscribers become regular readers of the obituary page, but reader surveys have shown that the page has very high readership.

Have you noticed how many obits omit the word, “died,” substituting “left this world,” “went to her/his ‘Heavenly rest,” “joined Jesus,” “left this earthly life,” etc.?

I was once startled to read an obituary in The N&O that ended with “Red pickup truck for sale.”

Friend and community leader Bob Wynne recalls reading in an out-of-town newspaper a lengthy obituary that listed survivors, a long list of the deceased’s accomplishments and the funeral arrangements.

The obit’s last line read, “She will be greatly missed by many local merchants.”

Our new image

Raleigh’s David Rockefeller writes that while recently visiting in Kansas City, he worshiped at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, the largest UMC in the country.

“The folks sitting near me were welcoming and friendly,” David said. “In two entirely separate conversations with total strangers, I was offered sympathy for being from North Carolina, home of HB2. So, that’s who we are right now: The home of HB2.”

And so it goes. Instead of respecting our license tags logo, “First in Flight,” many outsiders undoubtedly now view our state as “First in Foolishness.”

Saying ‘no’ to candy

At a grocery store checkout, the little boy pleaded with his mother for one of the candy bars on display at eye level. His mother ignored his tearful entreaties.

Another supermarket we patronize has a “No Candy” checkout lane just for moms with children in tow.

Kudos to supermarket managers who forego candy sales revenue in order to spare moms the pain of saying “No” to candy for their youngsters.

Snow: 919-836-5636; asnow@newsobserver.com