Wolfku Musing 7

One bark, many chirps
The fog is dense this morning
Voices carry well


Each morning, after first limbering up a little, then some exercise, then my morning meditation, and then after half a grapefruit and some reading and contemplation while sipping my green tea, I head out for my daily morning walk.

I live in a (perfect) cabin a short walk from the Pacific Ocean, and I count myself very lucky to be able to walk along its amazing shore twice a day, an opportunity I seldom fail to avail myself of (you know, some people drive half a continent just to see this water).

As a rule, I take a longer (3.7 miles) walk in the morning and a shorter (1.3 miles) walk in the afternoon, which usually includes sitting down for a while to take in the curving space of all this Pacific water—for a total of 5 miles a day.

I like the number five.

I also like the number eight, which is how many kilometers (which, of course, I also like, being Swedish and all) I walk daily.

I like kilometers, too, but they’re not of much use here, only inside my head and to make up the number eight.

Be that, though, as it may, the morning that saw this Wolfku bop to the surface was very foggy, and as I walked I noticed (or thought I noticed) how well sounds carry in the fog.

Yes, so I thought, until I some time later Googled it only to find out that voices do not carry better in fog, quite the opposite—the tiny water particles that make up the fog actually interfere with the propagation of the sound waves, and diffuses and weakens the sound.

Well, cut off my legs and call me Shorty.

And now I had to ask myself, how come I thought sounds—like the seals barking, like the birds chirping—actually sounded louder and clearer in this dense fog? I can only think of two things:

There were fewer cars out and about that morning, so less disturbance auto-wise, and what cars there were would have been, to some extent, trusting Google to tell the truth, muffled. Not, to share another rather amazing thing about this place, that there are ever many cars out and about when I walk. Some days I can count the number I meet (or that overtake me) on my fingers—and that’s for an hour’s walk.

And the other thing I can think of is the phenomenon where one sense sharpens when another is dulled: I could see a lot less with all that fog, perhaps my ears picked up the slack and simply heard better.

Because, really, it felt like I was walking through a mist of sounds. The grove immediately to my right, perhaps twenty feet way, though hidden in the mist, seemed to teem with birds, chattering away at full voice; and the seals out on Castle Rock (which I could not see either, of course) seemed like, well, it seemed like the whole rock was a lot closer than I know it is.

And so, the logical conclusion as I turned and headed back home again, was that sound must travel better and clearer in fog; after all, a Wolfku surfaced just to prove it.

And who am I to argue with that.

Sound does travel better, and farther under water, though. Counter-intuitive though it might be, Google agrees.