Nature is slowly being taken away from us. By our own hands we have destroyed the earth with such things like suburbs, shopping centers, and skyscrapers. We have been frivolous with our earth, treating it as it does not matter. But Pinehurst Arboretum has sent out to restore the earth, yet it can only do so much.
Pinehurst Arboretum is surrounded by development. First the Village of Pinehurst City Hall was built, but afterwards development was halted for fear of such destruction of earth. Now after more than a decade of protection, destruction has once again taken hold.
Houses were the first to arrive, not directly on Arboretum property, but close enough to be considered pollution. One such house, a new build, has been dubbed, by my mother, as the “McMansion” for its tacky and expansive style compared to the quaint cottages that previously surrounded the area. Along with houses is the new apartment building named “The Greens at Arboretum. It is a large three story building that is an eye sore to the community. Instead of being immersed in nature when at Pinehurst Arboretum, you stare at the top floor of The Greens. Worst part though is the runoff from local sewers are transported to Pinehurst Arboretum.
With all of this pollution I decided to do my own experiment, not in sight or smell, but in sound. Inspired by Gordon Hempton from “Silence Like Scouring Sand” I observed the sound of Pinehurst Arboretum. Specifically whether or not the majority of sound is human made or made by nature.
For my experiment I went to three different locations, called Sites, in Pinehurst Arboretum. I wrote down every noise, human or natural, I heard within a five minute time span. The sites are far enough apart to get different sounds depending on the location of each site. The sites experimented with are #1 Joyce’s Meadow, #2 The Creek and #3 Longleaf Pine Savanna.
Site #1, Joyce’s Meadow experienced the most sound but unfortunately was almost all human made. In the five minute time span from 4:33 to 4:38 there was only one sound at this entire site that was natural, a bird singing. Human sounds were abundant at Joyce’s Meadow, including dogs barking, a remote controlled car, kids riding on bikes, music playing from a phone, and highway traffic. I included dogs barking as human noises because they accompanied humans in Pinehurst Arboretum.
Site #2, the Creek did have less human sounds but still almost no natural sounds. From 4:45 to 4:50 I observed the creek and the only natural sound was the wind whistling in the trees. Other sounds included a rattling stroller, the sound of bikes going over a wooden bridge and gravel, kids yelling and again highway traffic.
Site #3, Longleaf Pine Savanna did not have an increase of natural sounds, but the site is further away from human inhabited areas so it feels less like it has human intrusion. Yet, it had human sounds mostly from far away on the highway, cars and loud motorcycles can be heard even when the highway is far from the Longleaf Pine Savanna. All of these sounds were observed from 5:03 to 5:08 and the entire time the cars on the highway were background noise.
All of these observations are important because it shows that in Pinehurst Arboretum it is impossible to have complete silence and be completely immersed in nature. Even if there is no human noise within the confines of Pinehurst Arboretum, the highway nearby has constant traffic so noise is always near the Arboretum. It detracts from being able to hear nature because every other sound is what you focus on as opposed to a bird that is singing.
When going to a natural space, you can’t control other people’s noise but you can control your own. And when going into a natural space like Pinehurst Arboretum try to experience nature making as little sound as possible to see what nature would really be like without human interference.