I stood out in the sun today and listened to the Earth making little contented pops and crackles and crinkly sounds. It was slurping up snow. As I searched for the source, I noticed bubbles in the melt. All around me the spongy ground was bubbling and burping. It got me to thinking about elephants. They make sounds that are so low pitched that we humans can’t hear them. But, of course, other elephants can. Researchers once taped some of the sounds and played them back to the elephants across several miles of savannah. The sounds were obviously a message that the elephants understood. As a group, they turned and began walking towards the hidden speakers.
We humans often self-centeredly assume that all creatures experience the world the same way we do. Hearing the same frequencies of sound, seeing the same wavelengths of light. But, recent science has shown that our limited senses can only receive a small spectrum of the information floating past us on a daily basis.
My dog, Ruff, could always hear Joe’s truck coming down the road long before I saw it cresting the last hill in the valley below my house. He would perk up his ears, bounce up and down and start to bark. When he did this, sure enough in about three minutes, the blue truck would slide into view a mile south. Even at the end of his life, when he was totally deaf to anything I might say to him, he could still hear that truck.
My rabbit beagle’s nose picks up an amazing array of olfactory signals that completely elude me. When I take him out on a brisk winter day, all I smell is clean air, but his nose vacuums up groundhog, human and rabbit smells, sorts them out and then zones in on the one he is most interested in chasing. He loves me with a devotion that I don’t deserve. The minute I step out of the house, he sniffs me out and comes running for a pat on the head. I can’t even sneak out for a walk without his amazing nose sniffing me out.
So many things on this earth make a music that we can’t hear. What else don’t we know about? Do spiders sing in high pitched arachnid arias that draw bugs to their webs? Do angels shimmer in a wavelength our eyes can’t discern? The Psalmist wrote: “Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy." Today, I heard the Earth singing praises to the Creator as it gratefully drank the first water of spring.