Sound Effect

September 13, 2016 Posted by: George Jacobi
Sitting on a rock ledge and looking out across Grand Canyon, a rock squirrel is seen from behind. It's face is not visible.

I know that the forces that control this place want to kill me.

I'm a pain in the neck to them, something that disturbs their carefully crafted illusion. OK, maybe they'll just tear me from my home, but we both know that I'll die if it happens. They aim to make sure that the millions of visitors overrunning my home here have an unblemished experience, can stare over the old stone wall to their hearts content without interacting with any of the denizens like me. What the heck is so interesting down there anyway?

I'd prefer to be left alone myself. I'm annoyed all the time. No, don't tease, just put it on the ground, human. CONSTANTLY angry. Humans are noisy, smelly, and dangerous creatures themselves to interact with, but they bring the food. Can I HELP it if they make me so nervous I lash out sometimes?

If this place had remained as it once was, what they now call the "Village", there would be real food here. I could detect the aroma of ripening nuts and seeds, I could watch winged acquaintances for clues, and I could hear them telling each other where to find food. I understand bird, although I don't speak it. Hey, get the camera out of my face. Most of all I could hear the food fall, each tree and bush producing in its own time. There would be cacti here, juniper and pinon, No, don't touch me! a FEAST of seeds. And insects, rich in protein. Each sound and each song would be clear, easy to pick out during the wind or the rain, and it would lead to food.

But what I hear is a cacophony, one that has made me half deaf myself. Buses, cars, trucks, RVs. Yelling humans. It's a constant barrage that lasts until after the sun sets. And the TRAINS. Oh, man, the trains. Louder than thunder. Terrible unnatural noise is now my daily aural world.

And so I beg. Even though most of the food poisons me, and will probably kill me before my time. Where else am I going to get enough energy to live on and reproduce? If I can even FIND my mate. Bite one more stupid human, and they'll come and 'remove' my whole family. Yeah, maybe I have gone a little off the deep end. Who wouldn't? Are you going to finish that sandwich, kid?

Just leave me alone; it's bad enough already being a squirrel here. Please?

This overindulgence of anthropomorphism is my way of depicting a new focus of the National Parks - Soundscapes. We once walled off nature to protect us from it;now we wall off nature to protect it from us. But like light, human created noise passes right through the 'walls'.

Among other problems this causes is to ruin the carefully evolved balance of sound in the natural world, forcing many kinds of animals out of their normal habits. An ecosystem is destroyed if only one part of its complex system fails to function. Sadly, deafened by our own roar, this tragedy passes right over our heads.

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This blog is meant to encourage awareness and thoughtfulness about the Grand Canyon, one of our most precious resources. It is not merely a story of what happens or has happened here, not a cookbook for what you should make of it yourself, but more an example of the many-faceted inspiration the Canyon nurtures in an artist, perhaps in you. Indeed, inspiration may be the Canyon's greatest resource. These words are sincere, my own take on this world, deliberately non-academic and directed toward users of social media. In no way does it represent the policies or opinions of the National Park Service, although it is done under the auspices of that entity, but is offered in gratitude, with my respect and admiration for these soldiers of conservation. George H. Jacobi 2016

Last updated: September 19, 2016

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