sound and silence moving through space and time, like music

For half a century, philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore has written about the natural world, her work shaped by the homes she’s made in Corvallis, Ore., and Chichaghof Island, Alaska. It’s also indebted to the conservationist and writer Rachel Carson (1907-1964), best known for “Silent Spring,” the landmark 1962 book in which she envisioned a world eerily hushed by pesticides. “I imagine,” Ms. Moore writes of Carson, “she called the book ‘Silent Spring’ . . . because it was the loss of the birds’ music that would grieve her the most.”

Ms. Moore adores birdsong, too, though in “Earth’s Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World” she details the threat of a broader quiet across the planet if humanity fails to heed warnings about the extinction crisis and other environmental challenges before us. “In the fifty years that I have been writing about nature,” she laments, “roughly 60 percent of all individual mammals have been erased from the face of the Earth. The total population of North American birds, the red-winged blackbirds and robins, has been cut by a third. Half of grassland birds have been lost. Butterflies and moths have declined by similar percentages. As individual numbers decrease, species are being lost, too. As many as one out of five species of organisms may be on the verge of extinction now, and twice that number could be lost by the end of the century.” […]

Ms. Moore considers the possibility of an even wider loss—the souring of seas, the withering of forests, and the wholesale disappearance of many kinds of life, which she regards as a form of spiritual impoverishment, too. “My nightmare is that before we lose the Earth’s life-sustaining systems, we will lose its soul-sustaining system—the Earth’s wild music,” she writes. […]

An abiding insight of “Earth’s Wild Music” is that to save the world, we must truly see and hear it. “How can we be fully alive,” she asks, “if we don’t pause to notice, and to celebrate, all the dimensions of our being, its length and its depth and its movement through time?” […]

“We, all of us—blue-green algae, galaxies, bear grass, philosophers, and clams—will someday dissipate into vibrating motes,” she writes. “In the end, all of natural creation is only sound and silence moving through space and time, like music.”

Danny Heitman, in a Book Review of Kathleen Dean Moore‘s “Earth’s Wild Music’ Review: Listening for Nature’s Melody” (, January 27, 2021)

Photo: DK, Cove Island Park, January 31 2020, 6:51 am. 13° F.


  1. A powerful message and beautiful reminder to listen to our Earth and its creatures. Love that photo Dave 💛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Our universe and the earth are so important, for sure everything, even when some people tries to forget it… Stay safe and greetings from Portugal, PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pedro. So agree. Thanks for sharing. Your thought reminds of of this passage:

      No matter what the universe has in store, it cannot take away from the fact that you were born. You’ll have some joy and some pain, and all the other experiences that make up what it’s like to be a tiny part of a grand cosmos. No matter what happens next, you were here. And even when any record of our individual lives is lost to the ages, that won’t detract from the fact that we were. We lived. We were part of the enormity. All the great and terrible parts of being alive, the shocking sublime beauty and heartbreak, the monotony, the interior thoughts, the shared pain and pleasure. It really happened. All of it. On this little world that orbits a yellow star out in the great vastness. And that alone is cause for celebration.

      — Sasha Sagan, For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World  (G.P. Putnam’s Sons; October 22, 2019) (via Beyond the fields we know…)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi David, The “…broader quiet across the planet…” is a scary thought. “…dissipate into vibrating motes…” also, scary. Yet, knowledge is power. Thank you for sharing and the beautiful heading photo! Erica

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s sad. We can be sad. We can be grateful for it all through what I like to think of as embodied presence. If I could, or can, I’d come back as a bird. Blessings to you, David!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. beautiful and tragically sad words

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sad thought that one day the world will not only be silent, but smelly and toxic:(

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am listening. Deeply.
    I am acting. Thoughtfully.
    I am being. Conscious in my actions. In my listening. In my ways.

    Thank you for the reminder David. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Can’t be said any better … ““In the end, all of natural creation is only sound and silence moving through space and time, like music.”
    — Danny Heitman, in a Book Review of Kathleen Dean Moore‘s “‘Earth’s Wild Music’ Review: Listening for Nature’s Melody” (, January 27, 2021).”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The world is always changing, and has been for eons. I suppose it will go through this decline and come out of it somehow … dfferent … but then it will go one for eons more with many changes and adaptions, just as it went through the formative millenia and the ice age and dinosaurs.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m going to continue to listen, David. Beautiful photo as always! Cher xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

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