Solstice: listening to the sun stand still

Dawn at the summer solstice

21/06/10
I walked into the moors at 4am to record the summer’s first sunrise. As the sound of the Durngate passed behind me I was engulfed in the dawn chorus of summer solstice.
The roar of the river at Durngate, together with the road noise of the bridge over it, conspires to drown the ear in a sustained white noise. As I move into the moors this noise recedes and closes behind me, producing a shift in the attention of my listening, my ears becoming hypersensitive to the intricate and complex soundscape of the moors.  This occurs most times I enter the moors from the Durngate, but is particularly noticeable at this early hour. Perhaps as well as being an ancient entrance to City of Winchester, the Durngate also acts as a sensorial entrance, a ‘noise gate’ through which we can enter the moors with our listening enriched.
The word solstice defines a particular position of the sun in  the sky, the moment the sun is at its maximum distance from the equator. Derived from the Latin solstitium, the word refers to the sun appearing to stop moving: sol (sun) & stitium (coming to a stop, standing still).  Stillness is part of the equation of listening:  in order to listen we must, withdraw from utterance and make ourselves silent. As the first dawn of summer surrounded me, my steps disturbed a deer, which darted out down the path leading into moors:  I walked forward tentatively,  slowly coming to a stop.  I press record and listened to the sun standing still.

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