For Janice Feather of Fairfax City, it’s the rustle of poplar, birch or aspen leaves that brings her joy. “It takes me immediately back to my younger days when that sound would lull me to sleep or greet me upon awakening,” she wrote.
From the deciduous to the evergreen: Melanie Files of Martinsburg, W.Va., finds peace in the sound of the wind moving through the pines along her driveway.
“Even in a strong wind I am comforted by the sound that the trees are bending but not breaking — a good lesson for all of us,” she wrote.
And what lives in trees? Birds, of course.
“Each spring I await the first calls of a wood thrush with its melodious flute-like song,” wrote Jim Rismiller of Burke. “They’re back to raise another brood — all is right with this little patch of the world.”
Helen O’Brien likes hearing the first bird of the morning, when she’s still in bed and just waking up. Wrote Helen: “Usually it’s still semi-dark and before all the other sounds of the morning begin, that first bird calling makes me wonder about all the possibilities the new day might bring.”
The District’s Jack Strausman likes the raucous bark of blue jays: “They always remind me of my childhood on Long Island, where I was often awoken to the cacophony of the squawking of dozens in the woods behind my house.”
(Jack: My Lovely Wife begs to differ. I have to physically restrain her from flinging her coffee mug at the jays when they’re carousing at our feeder.)
Neely Willett loves the sound made by the flapping wings of geese whenever a flock flies over her Reston home.
“I always run outside to hear it,” she wrote. “P.S.: I’m careful when I look up!”
Bob McPherson of Mount Airy, Md., is partial to the calming coo of the mourning dove. Wrote Bob: “My out-of-town granddaughter visited a couple of summers back and after hearing the call of ‘the rural pigeon’ said to me, ‘She’s crying.’
From birds to bees (and birds). One of Bettye Robertson’s hobbies is cultivating flowers, especially perennials. “I like to hear the sound of bees and hummingbirds buzzing from flower to flower extracting nectar,” wrote Bettye, of Capitol Heights. “Since fall has started to unfold and winter will follow, I will miss hearing these sounds but will have something to look forward to next spring.”
Amanda West’s favorite sound is the chorus created by spring peeper frogs. “When they are out, I open my door and just listen,” wrote Amanda, of Berryville, Va.
Sandy Meyers of Severna Park enjoys a different choral creature: the cicada. Wrote Sandy: “I can even pick out the sounds of cicadas as background ‘music’ in certain television shows that are filmed presumably in the south.”
Behind Grace E. Peterson’s house is a stream that runs down to the Potomac River. Whatever the season — from rainy spring to hot, dry summer — the brook provides a constant burble. When a new neighbor moved in next door, she asked whether Grace ever grew tired of the noisy stream.
Wrote Grace: “I have lived here in the same house for over 55 years and heard the sound of the stream every day. Have I ever tired of hearing it? No, never!”
Elizabeth Ann Elliott Jordan of Falls Church loves the sound of water, too, particularly the ocean. “Not so much the general sound of the waves,” she wrote, “but that ‘throumpth’ when the exhausted wave crashes onto the hard sand.”
“Throumpth” is my new favorite word.
Don Schiller from Baltimore had a different reaction to my column. It put him in mind not of nature’s symphony, but of his favorite Jimmy Stewart line from “It’s a Wonderful Life”: “Do you know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”
Don said he can’t help but smile every time he hears that bit of dialogue: “In just a few words he captures the romance and adventure of travel — at least as it used to be.”
And that opens a whole other world of sound.
Tuesday: The human-made sounds we love.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/john-kelly.