Last year when we were in Illinois for our first winter, I wrote about the feeling of being exposed. The wind, the rain, the hail and snow, all seem to be very close and can even be threatening at times, out here on the prairie in the RV. And of course the heat and summer thunderstorms are more examples of how this life differs from being in a house – it’s that sense of exposure again, and it’s a big part of our daily experience. There are many positive aspects to this, too – the bright airiness when the weather is clear and sunny and the shades are all open, feeling connected to and not isolated from the outdoors. And speaking of the outdoors, another side of being exposed that we’ve experienced here in the wilds of Illinois is the sounds made by critters.
We have seen lots of different denizens of nature in our stay here, but there are many we don’t see, but we definitely hear. Frogs are everywhere because we are just a quarter of a mile from a deep creek, and the area around us is wooded, so at night they sing quite a song. And there are crickets too, when we can hear them. But the most amazing thing is the cicadas…like this big guy below!
If you’ve never heard the locusts singing in mid to late summer and into early fall, it is quite a remarkable experience. If you have heard them you know what I am talking about – an almost deafening high-pitched screeching scraping sound, that ebbs and flows according to some invisible conductor’s cues. They are called dog day cicadas because they are most active in the heat of summer, and in person they are ugly bugs about an inch and a half long. People used to eat them – thus the locusts and honey mentioned in the Bible.
Well, I don’t think we’ll start eating them, but I’ve found another use for the noisy creatures, along with the frogs and crickets. I suffer from tinnitus, which has gradually worsened over the last few years. For me it’s a high-pitched, constant ringing that is always in my ears. My hearing is OK, and doesn’t seem to be getting worse – I’ve had it tested. The ringing of tinnitus is independent of hearing acuity.
But the sound from inside does seem to get a bit louder every year. The odd thing is that the cacophony outside here in the woods of Illinois very nearly matches what goes on in my head – close enough, I would say, to have a masking effect on the tinnitus. This is one of the so-called remedies that is commonly suggested for the affliction, and it’s not really a cure. it’s more of a method of learning to live with the condition and making peace with it psychologically.
So, I recommend that for any of you out there who have tinnitus, one of the best things you can do is live in an RV in the middle of the midwest. After a while, it starts to seem like the sounds that are emanating from various little creatures in the environment are actually inside your head – and that’s a good thing. It means that when I go to bed at night I’m hearing the din, and when I wake up it’s still there – but it’s really inside my head.
Yes, the locusts, the frogs, the crickets are all serenading me most of the time, whether anyone can hear them or not. Maybe it’s not a cure, but it’s a way to deal with the problem and accept it – an important step psychologically. The only flaw in this solution is, fall is approaching, and at some point the sounds coming from outside will stop. I’m confident that, unless a miracle cure is found, the sounds from inside will not cease. But at least now they’re all my friends, visitors in this cage of flesh, and I welcome their visits.
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