My interest in sounding the world was peaked when I attended Elise Witt’s weekend of song and exploration on Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia in 2004 or 2005. Time is a blur, but I vividly remember that weekend, carrying a hand held cassette tape recorder everywhere, and later creating a memory soundscape for each person who attended our glorious days of song and sun on Ossabaw Island GA. This was the very beginning of sound and soundscaping as my creative focus, awakened on this magical island.
The next trip to Ossabaw was as a creative artist with a desire to make a piece for the Annual Ossabaw Foundation Pig Roast and Art Auction, The field recording you will hear below was made standing underneath Sandy West’s tree on Ossabaw Island during a sunny afternoon in May 2006. From this recording, I created one of my first “soundscapes” and my partner, Trudie Kiliru, created the watercolor “Sandy’s Tree”. We felt they were a package and donated them to the auction. The recording presented here is an edited version of the original audio file and focuses on the natural and human-made sounds one might hear on Ossabaw on a Spring afternoon.
The recording was made with a mini-disc recorder through two small microphones attached to a ball cap on my head. Occasionally you will hear my steps on the shelled path, but mostly I stood in one spot and looked around. Listening to the recording through headphones, you will hear the birds move across the tree canopy, a plane pass by overhead, and close encounters with mosquitos, angry squirrels and electric ciccadas. I hear at least a dozen different bird calls. What do you hear?
Now in 2020, Ossabaw Island’s protected status has come under threat of private development. The Ossabaw Foundation and their supporters have been able to fend off the threat so far, and hopefully they will continue to do so. Putting this news together with climate change and rising seas, I realized that these few moments by Sandy West’s tree are a record of something that I want to preserve.
For more information about Ossabaw Island, The Ossabaw Foundation and the amazing Sandy West and her special tree, visit https://ossabawisland.org/