My friends like to make fun of the fact that I am never without my earbuds. By that, I mean I am never without my earbuds with loud music playing from them, rendering me unable to hear my friends calling for me sometimes up to seven times (as one friend who catches me with them so much that last week when I was without them he was genuinely surprised claims). This isn’t even on purpose anymore (most of the time); I’ve just loved music from before I could speak, according to my parents. The best moment of my semester so far has not been getting accepted into my top choice of abroad program or celebrating my 21st birthday, but going to my first music festival and seeing my favorite band from the fifth row after waiting four hours in elbow to elbow crowds. Speaking of my 21st birthday, one friend got me a large pack of mix cds with the excuse that “no one knows your music references, Ellen.” All this being said, I don’t actually remember a time since high school when I didn’t walk from class to class without earbuds in.
For yesterday’s visit to Kylander, I refrained from using my earbuds; something that I probably should be doing more often. In the past, I had only expected them to distract from noises such as trucks and other students–at this point in the semester, there aren’t many more birds or other animals to be heard in the afternoon–and heading into this visit I thought that the only benefit would be not being surprised and caught off guard when a prospective student from admissions came up and asked what I was doing. I soon realized however that without an outside distraction, I was more aware of all my surroundings.
Had I been listening to my music, I may have only noticed my first impression of Kylander and his home: his now bare branches, minus one toward that bottom that contains a few more gradually dying brownish-green leaves. Against the setting sun–at 4:30 PM, still throwing me off–these branches look like a charcoal drawing with an idyllic orange-tinted blue sky as the backdrop. I try to snap a photo of bursts from the sun’s rays shining through, however my impressive yet still unprofessional iPhone camera is unable to capture them. Even though Kylander is devoid of color and ready for winter, there are still hints of other seasons all around him that I hadn’t noticed previously. The ginkgo tree across the street at Biddle house adds its bright yellow leaves to the backdrop of the sky, while bushes even smaller than Kylander to my left still contain radiant red leaves; possibly the last of fall. Across from me, there is a bush that kind of looks like an anchor and probably hasn’t changed aesthetically all year.
As I’m about to bike away, I hear something scampering around behind me, quietly enough that I would have missed it had music been playing but loud enough to distinguish itself from my natural surroundings. I turn around to find a small dog out on a walk. When I ask its owner if I can pet it, she lets me feed it a few treats, which makes me excited to go home and see my own dogs in about a week.
While my music makes me forget how lethargic I am before my morning classes, after my half an hour without it I feel more calm than I ever am on my morning bike rides from my house to Denny.