The other day, I was multitasking. Filling a container with water, while starting dinner, I could tell, sight unseen, how full the container was just by the rising pitch the water produced as it inched its way to the top.
I pondered how the sounds of water telegraph what's happening, when it's happening and where it's happening.
When we hear an oscillating sprinkler with its varying methodical forward motion, chew-chew-chew, and then the rapid cycling backward, chi-ch-chi-chi-chi-chi, we discern its direction as it soaks the lawn.
Certain sounds reveal when other sprinklers are in full operation, like squealing children affectionately leaping through tickling sprays. And the happy splish-splash of their bare feet carried by tireless legs that swiftly perform awkward ballets through airborne water.
It can be difficult to tell the depth of puddles. Yet, we immediately know how deep these isolated pools of water are by the sound of our steps or missteps.
A little spittle of a puddle only makes a benignly wet utterance, while a larger one plops, as it soaks our soles and socks.
We can tell when squirt guns are full by the juicy sound of a loaded trigger and empty by the airy wheezing.
Roaring water pounding over expansive towering ridges or lightly trickling through narrow rock passages reveals the greatness or smallness of a waterfall.
Springtime is nearing when the sound of thawing lakes and streams produces musical scores, like crystallized chimes as icy edges melt and release their hard grip on shorelines.
Further out, once frozen ice fields begin to melt, letting off reverberating rumbles as warm air currents make thawing ice quiver and quake while overhead geese fly north.
Birds gaily splash in once quiet pedestal baths, flitting and fluttering in a exercise of renewal.
The scooping and pouring of baptismal waters, the newness of life cleansing misdeeds, renewing old souls — all hopeful sounds.
Although, some water sounds have a dark side.
A bathtub overflowing.
Drains backing up.
Water boiling over.
Hail knocking, and then pounding.
A commanding wind-driven rain that presents itself, not vertically in delicately descending droplets, but horizontally, as it angrily storms eastward, forcing us to hide, first under overhangs, and then move indoors, as it slows life to a halt.
The wildly lurid rush of flood waters, racing over banks and through dikes, destroying order and peace.
There is the frantic gurgling and thrashing of a drowning person, the sudden harshness of falling through an old ice fishing hole and the choking sound as fluid travels down the windpipe instead of the esophagus.
And finally, the lungs of a dying person strangely rattling, signaling end-of-life, a time when discerning sounds of water ceases.
2010 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national and state award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took first-place awards statewide. To contact Paula, email firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.comand find her on Facebook.