Sounds of the City

Have you ever been to the top of the Empire State Building, or stood on the rooftop of a 5-story walk-up in the East Village, or walked from Downtown to Uptown through all its changing faces?  The cacophony, the constancy, the buses, sirens, the laughter, the street musicians, the rumble of the subways in the belly of the beast.  Vibrant.  Ceaseless.  It’s the throb and thrum of the Greatest City on Earth.

Only the quiet of a new fallen snow in New York City is softness apparent and I remember what it’s like to hear again.

The sounds of Downtown Charleston hold their own lure, as graceful as the storied mansions South of Broad, as mannerly as its citizens.  As I lay on the couch on the piazza of my old Charleston home, gazing up at that true blue dream of a sky, the breeze comes across the rivers.  Magnolia leaves rustle, church bells chime and horses go cloppity clop.  There are City sounds still – neighbors chatting, sirens in the distance, and hip-hop blaring from an open car window.  But on still days – only slightly removed from the delightful hullabaloo – you can hear the glide of dolphins through the dark waters and waves lapping along the Battery.

Once or twice a day in the distance there is a low whine.  My ears perk.  The whine increases to a roar and then screams out loud like a banshee.  It’s a C-17 flying across the Peninsula, brawny, but so low and languid in the sky you swear it’s going to drop.  It always reminds me that the sound of that massive engine used to scare me – on account of planes crashing into tall buildings and all….

And it reminds me from whence I came – straight out of the arms of Mamma Manhattan and into my Lowcountry Lullaby.

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