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Michiana Chronicles writers bring portraits of our life and times to the 88.1 WVPE airwaves every Friday at 7:45 am during Morning Edition and over the noon hour at 12:30 pm during Here and Now. Michiana Chronicles was first broadcast in October 2001. Contact the writers through their individual e-mails and thanks for listening!

Michiana Chronicles: The Sounds

Heather Curlee Novak

Can you imitate the sound of a tractor? Would someone be able to guess that was the sound? I work in Senior Living in activities, and we had an activity where the residents were supposed to listen to several sounds played through a TV and then guess what the item making the sound was. Then we had some conversation starters and fun facts about the items to start interaction about the sounds we heard. Unfortunately, the video wouldn't connect to play the sounds. I decided it would be funny if I made up the sounds with my mouth and poorly imitated a tractor, raking leaves, pouring hot cider, etc. In most cases I simply confessed the item to the residents, or added actions that were far more effective than my god-awful noises! Then we talked about their memories and thoughts about the environment or season around the sounds. As most activities are designed to do, this got me thinking…

The next morning, I noticed the noisy pleasure in lighting my kitchen candle. Rattling the paper box of matches pulled from the kitchen drawer, fishing out a match. Scratching the wooden match along the raspy strike strip until it flares into a luminous flame. I light an appropriately fragrant kitchen candle for my family most mornings with a blessing for our day. While I deeply enjoyed this ritual, I wasn’t clued into the sounds until after my work activity.

I also enjoy the scratching sound of a Pilot G2 pen against my journal pages. Preferably a 10 stroke instead of the thinner 7, and I now order refill cartridges instead of new pens!

I like the sound of any shopping bag as it crackles and shuffles from almost any store with any item in it. Other sounds I find delightful are coffee percolating (especially if I didn't make it!), ice clinking into a glass. The fizz of seltzer, a satisfying deep sigh. I like the Honk of my car horn for angst or delight. When I was younger and my Honda horn ceased honking, I truly thought it was a friend's annoyed husband simply disarming it. Will I ever know?

I relish the luxurious squirt of face cleanser or serum into my palm to apply for my morning routine. The shuffle of leaves in the Fall. The hushed spritz of perfume. As I consider these audible moments, it makes me think about all the sounds and the words involved. Some words when spoken make the sound they represent: Crackle truffle smooth jagged rough liquid icy flames rattle strike lift shove spritz fluff spread boom and flick…what words am I missing? What words come to your mind as you listen to mine?

Of course, I’m not discovering anything new here, many of you have been shouting in your cars “That’s an onomatopoeia!” An onomatopoeia according to Oxford Languages is “the formation of a word from a sound associated with what it is named.” This tricky word came up as I shared my word sound thoughts with my family. Hard to say, but memorable!

There are some words that I find awkward in my mouth and they don't sound right. Dumb. gum. Pickle. Porcupine. Worstershire. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I suppose I will simply continue to fumble over these and many more. I hope my musings cause you to notice your own sounds, your own words. And may you never have to mimic the sounds of a tractor like I did!

Music: "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" by Kenny Chesney

Heather Novak's professional history includes sales and customer service training and troubleshooting for businesses, but she loves motivational speaking best. Heather leads church events for youth, singles and women, has spoken for Chicago Apartment Association and many organizations throughout Indiana. Nowadays Heather is just another stay at home wild mama trying to loose some weight, keep some sanity and enjoy her life. She is being raised by two little girls named Portia and Libby and is indulged by a guy named John who was gracious enough to marry her. Heather blogs about F Words: Feisty Faith, Fumbling Family, Fairly Healthy Food, Failed Fashion and Fabulous Friendships. You can find her at