Symphonies in the Mount Washington Valley.

Currently in this day and age we have the most amazing access to music. Just when you thought the ipod revolutionized the world with digital music, in come services like Spotify and Pandora, and Apple music open up the listener’s world like never before believed possible.

I read somewhere that some 4 million songs on Spotify had never even been played even once, meaning, there is a never ending supply of endless music out there. We simply don’t have time to listen to it all!

Which brings me to my point. The Valley. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley. My home away from home, my Shangri-La.

O2014-10-13_1413158876ne of my favorite pastimes is to explore the valley: hiking, fishing, walking and wandering. The sights are just so special and this spring lent us breathtaking clear, cool days from our unusually terrific weather. (We are just going to forget about last winter, deal?).

One of my other favorite pastimes is to listen to the wealth of music before me. In my hand I now carry a small electronic device that provides me access to millions of songs. Genres from Glitter Trance to Chicago House, Death Metal to Deep Orchestral. One could spend months choosing a different country each day.

So herein lies the quandary. Time is not eternal, it is fixed. There are only so many hours in each day, and most of those are spent working, playing, or traveling to and fro. Such rampant business prevents us from stopping to smell the flowers, or in this case enjoy the music. However there are those moments where I step into the Forest away from the civilized world and am at peace. A perfect time to slip on headphones and fall deep into a musical trance.

Yet, the sounds of the Valley are music. The rushing of the Ellis River, the sound of woodpeckers, the chirp of peeping frogs – all of these things are their own symphony of sorts. If you listen closely to a riffling river you can hear structure to the sounds, a sonic coherence, certainly not music as we know it – but it is auditory awareness that somehow satisfies that portion of our brain that is attracted to music. So by satisfying one need – the alone time to stop and listen to the latest Blue Note release while wandering the paths of the forest, we sacrifice another need, the need to connect with nature. I don’t need a psychology study to tell me that the sounds of nature are a healthy addition to our lives.

So I have no answers, this is my plight. The only solution? Long drives. Taking the long way home to listen to playlists in the car. Sitting in the driveway a few extra minutes to finish one more track. Having gratified the natural urge to enjoy the Symphonies of nature, one can now fill in the space traveling back from where we came.

Music is everything to me, and I could live with a soundtrack playing at all times. It sometimes just leaves me in a quandary – the nature of music or the nature of man – which is best for the soul?