a state of stillness, calmness, and quiet in a person or place.
It had been another busy Saturday in the parking lot. Not only had there been many people parking their cars with us, half of the people were cranky, and it seemed like the rest were needy. Either someone was trying to pick a fight or s/he had a million questions and practically wanted us to hold his/her hand through the entire parking process. It was exhausting. The weather wasn’t helping either. The sky was overcast, and we could feel the expectation of rain in the air, as if nature were holding her breath, letting the tension mount before releasing the wet. Maybe it was barometric pressure or negative ions, but the tourists had been acting weird (and annoying!) all afternoon.
My workday was drawing to a close, and I was seeing the light (in the form of dinner and peace) at the end of the tunnel, when I heard the constant mechanical buzz of a small engine coming from the road behind me and to my left. I turned around and saw a grown man and two teenage boys with a remote-controlled toy vehicle rolling at their feet. I didn’t notice which one of them had the controller and was “driving” the thing, but I noticed it was pretty big for a toy and had fat wheels.
I looked at the adult and said incredulously Are you bringing that on the trail?
He answered in a voice I’d expect to hear from a cartoon buffoon: not very bright. Uhhhhh, yeah.
Isn’t that kind of obnoxious? I asked.
He looked at me blankly. He had no idea why people walking in nature and looking at trees might find his noisy toy obnoxious.
What about the quietude of nature? I pleaded.
The blank look never left his face. It’s battery powered, he said. There’s no gas.
Apparently he thought “quietude” was somehow related to pollution. Apparently he’d never considered pollution of the noise variety.
I can’t stop you from bringing it on the trail, I told him, but I think it’s obnoxious.
Well I think it’s pretty cool, he said in the same tone as schoolchildren say I’m rubber and you’re glue…
As the toy vehicle rolled and hummed across the street to the trail, I imagined it bumping someone’s abuela (grandmother) in the ankle; scaring dogs and making them bark; getting tangled in a Boy Scout leader’s feet; and startling birds and squirrels and causing them to leave the area, all the while destroying the quietude of nature with its irritating buzzing noise.