TALES FROM THE DUMP: The calls of the wild

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I love the call of the loon. Especially when I am out in the bush, lying in bed and I hear the round of calls they make just after sunset.

I love the call of the loon. Especially when I am out in the bush, lying in bed and I hear the round of calls they make just after sunset. It happens every night like clockwork and if you listen carefully you can hear the calls slowly move westward, as the planet rotates. It is a call that goes around the entire North once a day. It is a magical moment.

The call is so Northern and in its own way haunting and soothing. I reckon the loon is calling to all its neighbours, friends and relatives “GOOD NIGHT ALLLLLLLL.”

This got me to thinking. Lots of Northerners love that call. Imagine if every night just after sunset the hospital, the old folk’s home and even the jail, played the call of the loon. Hearing it might cheer some people up or make them feel better. The hospital could do it to mark the end of visiting hours. The jail could do it for lights out. The city could use the mighty call of the loon to mark special occasions or events. You could use it to mark the opening of the farmers market each week.

Some communities in the North have curfews. All people under a certain age are supposed to head home when the curfew siren wails. The sirens are mighty loud so that everyone in or around town can hear them. If you don’t know about this ritual, suddenly at nine o’clock in the evening, you are just about blasted out of your hotel room by a very loud siren. It can scare the daylights out of a person. They really should warn people about it.

Now imagine if they replaced the siren with a loon call. You just tell the kids, “Head home when you hear the Town Loon Call.”

A loon call might sound a whole lot better than a siren. The noises we hear are important because they do affect one’s mood.

In Yellowknife, there are a whole lot of sirens. It seems that just about every day, any time of the day or night, sirens race up and down Franklin Avenue. Sometimes it’s whole convoy of sirens. Sometimes it’s several times a day, and the place sounds a little like a war zone. You hear the siren and think, “I wonder is that the police, fire or an ambulance. Is it a fire, an accident, an assault or have THE SPACE ALIENS ARRIVED?”

You could change the sirens to bird calls, which would be more pleasant. Loons for police, ducks for fire engines and ravens for ambulances. It would be an interesting experiment. I just don’t like the jarring intrusion of sirens all the time. Surely, they could come up with a system of lights or message boards that tell people to get out of the way. We have been using sirens for way too long. It’s time to try something different.

I really like the sounds of the bush and I know a lot of Northerners do too. Someone should make up a soundscape of a day in the North so that old-timers stuck in the city can listen do it. The morning bird chorus when the sun comes up, especially in the springtime. The chatter of the squirrel in the forest, the spruce hen and her chicks strolling by. The occasional call of the gulls, or the ravens teaching their young. The rustle of the leaves in the breeze. The screech of an eagle. Maybe a woodpecker looking for a meal. Then at night after the loons, the swish of the night hawks or the hoots of an owl. The scurry of little furry things on the forest floor. The howls of wolves or the barks of foxes. The slap of a beaver’s tail. So many interesting sounds.

I think a soundscape like that would be very relaxing, especially for our seniors and shut-ins. The idea is nothing new. I just think we should have some good Northern ones and that we started using them. Sounds are important and they do affect people, so we should make them more appealing, interesting and Northern. It is a little thing but it might make quite a difference.

The question is, if we used the Loon Call idea, would we owe them a royalty. Would it be a case of species appropriation? Would the loons launch a class action lawsuit? Who knows?

It happens every night like clockwork and if you listen carefully you can hear the calls slowly move westward, as the planet rotates. It is a call that goes around the entire North once a day. It is a magical moment.

The call is so Northern and in its own way haunting and soothing. I reckon the loon is calling to all its neighbours, friends and relatives “GOOD NIGHT ALLLLLLLL.”

This got me to thinking. Lots of Northerners love that call. Imagine if every night just after sunset the hospital, the old folk’s home and even the jail, played the call of the loon. Hearing it might cheer some people up or make them feel better. The hospital could do it to mark the end of visiting hours. The jail could do it for lights out. The city could use the mighty call of the loon to mark special occasions or events. You could use it to mark the opening of the farmers market each week.

Some communities in the North have curfews. All people under a certain age are supposed to head home when the curfew siren wails. The sirens are mighty loud so that everyone in or around town can hear them. If you don’t know about this ritual, suddenly at nine o’clock in the evening, you are just about blasted out of your hotel room by a very loud siren. It can scare the daylights out of a person. They really should warn people about it.

Now imagine if they replaced the siren with a loon call. You just tell the kids, “Head home when you hear the Town Loon Call.”

A loon call might sound a whole lot better than a siren. The noises we hear are important because they do affect one’s mood.

In Yellowknife, there are a whole lot of sirens. It seems that just about every day, any time of the day or night, sirens race up and down Franklin Avenue. Sometimes it’s whole convoy of sirens. Sometimes it’s several times a day, and the place sounds a little like a war zone. You hear the siren and think, “I wonder is that the police, fire or an ambulance. Is it a fire, an accident, an assault or have THE SPACE ALIENS ARRIVED?”

You could change the sirens to bird calls, which would be more pleasant. Loons for police, ducks for fire engines and ravens for ambulances. It would be an interesting experiment. I just don’t like the jarring intrusion of sirens all the time. Surely, they could come up with a system of lights or message boards that tell people to get out of the way. We have been using sirens for way too long. It’s time to try something different.

I really like the sounds of the bush and I know a lot of Northerners do too. Someone should make up a soundscape of a day in the North so that old-timers stuck in the city can listen do it. The morning bird chorus when the sun comes up, especially in the springtime. The chatter of the squirrel in the forest, the spruce hen and her chicks strolling by. The occasional call of the gulls, or the ravens teaching their young. The rustle of the leaves in the breeze. The screech of an eagle. Maybe a woodpecker looking for a meal. Then at night after the loons, the swish of the night hawks or the hoots of an owl. The scurry of little furry things on the forest floor. The howls of wolves or the barks of foxes. The slap of a beaver’s tail. So many interesting sounds.

I think a soundscape like that would be very relaxing, especially for our seniors and shut-ins. The idea is nothing new. I just think we should have some good Northern ones and that we started using them. Sounds are important and they do affect people, so we should make them more appealing, interesting and Northern. It is a little thing but it might make quite a difference.

The question is, if we used the Loon Call idea, would we owe them a royalty. Would it be a case of species appropriation? Would the loons launch a class action lawsuit? Who knows?

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