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The Return Of Silence

As this winter was drawing to a close the machinery of human progress all but stopped. But nature's machinery kept on churning as it has since the beginning of time. And without the distraction provided by humanity's relentless chase towards all things faster, bigger and better, suddenly there was a chance to reconnect to the slower pace of nature's rhythm.

Marifjell nature reserve
Last snowfall of the season

In the hills overlooking my childhood home, wild forests and open plains stretch on for miles. I know these hills like the back of my hand and I cherish every chance I get to venture here on foot or skis. But since 1998 my experiences have been tainted by the noise of airplanes above. Ever since the new main airport opened the roar of jet engines is almost always present. It is something I have reluctantly accepted and gotten somewhat used to over the years, but it still saddens me that the pristine feeling of these hills is lost.

This march, however, that old feeling came back. The silence once again returned to the forest. The natural sound was the only interrupter and the absence of artificial noise made a profound difference. Hardly any planes have come and gone this spring and it was surprising to me how much this affected my experiences. Spending time in the forest was more pleasant and exciting. As if some kind of hidden world revealed itself, I could now hear much clearer the sounds that had been overshadowed by unnatural noise for a long time. The calls of the black grouse in the distance. The faint drumming of woodpeckers echoing through the trees. And at the first light of day the sound of hundreds of small birds bursting into song.

The effect of such a newfound connection with nature is perhaps one of the most important lessons from this worldwide shutdown. Sometime in the future, when societies start to open up again and people can resume their daily lives, maybe more will begin to care about preserving the nature we have, instead of always trying to find new ways to exploit it.

As for me, I will treasure this opportunity to experience my beloved hills in this moment of quiet. If only for a little while.

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