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Weekend Soundtrack

'Letting Nature Into Your Ears'

Bill Radke

Michael Raphael

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Water cuts rock
(Haans Petruschke)
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Bill Radke: Haans, why are the sounds of nature the soundtrack to your weekend?

Haans Petruschke: It's peaceful, and it reminds me of what a beautiful place I live in. I'm very fortunate to live in this place. What's amazing about it is that I live just 18 miles from downtown Cleveland, which is a major metropolitan area, yet I'm fortunate to have a 370-acre forest preserve in my backyard. And it's really a privilege to be able to live in such a place.

Tell us about this forest preserve. What does it look like? What's there?

Let's go to one of my favorite places, which is Stebbin's Gulch. It's got this beautiful, pristine stream that runs down through it and it cuts through the different rock layers. And the forest in the springtime and summer is beautiful and lush and green, and you're down low, and so you're not hearing the sounds of cars or tires on the road. You're not hearing the sounds of any sorts of machines. It's quiet, and it takes a little while to get used to that and to re-calibrate yourself. You don't have to shout over the noise of the machines, you just can whisper and people can hear you. And you need to pay attention with all of your senses, and not just with your eyes. By letting nature into your ears, you start to appreciate it much more.

What song does nature sing to you? What are those sounds?

It's really a symphony. I don't necessarily need the human voice, and so those songs of those birds kind of fill the environment. And I think about a couple things: Down in the ravines and valleys, there's this bird called the winter wren. This is just a tiny little bird, just a few inches long. And when you're in a valley or in a ravine and this bird starts to sing, it fills the whole valley with its song. And it's just musical and beautiful, and it just takes your breath away. There's also the sounds of the leaves in the trees, of the wind in the trees and the running water because we have lots of streams that run through the ravines and valleys. So you hear that, and it all kind of combines.

Haans, every other one of our listeners who has shared a Weekend Soundtrack has shared recorded music. Why is the sound of nature so much more vital to you?

Well, it's never the same. Start at six in the morning and then by nine in the morning, the sounds have changed completely. And it evokes the feelings that I want most in my life, outside of feelings like love and comfort. In terms of being comfortable with my surroundings, the sounds of nature are what make me feel the best.

Haans, this has been a fantastic addition to our Weekend Soundtrack series. Thank you.

You're welcome, Bill. It was good talking with you.

More stories from our Weekend Soundtrack series


  • Comment | Refresh

  • By Hilary Cox

    From Avon, IN, 04/18/2008

    For me it's the wood thrush which serenades me morning and evening from mid-April through September; not to mention the peepers and chorus frogs, followed by the gray tree frogs in late summer. And I live on only two acres in a 200 year-old farmhouse in central Indiana, surrounded by new developments.

    By Nature Conserve

    From Cleveland, OH, 04/14/2008

    This is truly a beautiful place. I believe Stebins Gulch is located in The Holden Arboretum, one of Northeast Ohio's true gems. I heard that you volunteer there. I looked at Holden's website, www.holdenarb.org, and saw bird hikes avaialable. I am definitley going to check this out!

    By Rachel Gonzalez

    From Alliance, NE, 04/12/2008

    Beautiful, just beautiful. It's been snowing today in the Nebraska Panhandle - so cold. Ah spring. Didn't know that Ohio is so beautiful. Reminded me of Turkey Run in Indiana.

    By Eduardo Barnes

    From Fort Thomas, KY, 04/12/2008

    I thought Presque Isle was the most beautiful site on Erie shore? You are a good shepherd of Stebbins Gulch so it may be enjoyed by our children. Thanks for the wonderful reminder that green edens and the harmony of birdsongs bring us closer to Mother Earth.

    By louanne lasdon


    Stebbin's Gulch, AHHHH Yes! brings back so many memories of growing up in NE Ohio.... and meandering in the springtime woods. My grandfather taught me to identify wild mushrooms, my mother was ever on the hunt for wild ferns and strawberries to adopt and I loved the quiet solitude... Still do... In fact, after 30 years of living in Texas, I'm back in Ohio and heading to Towner's woods to get my fix for today.

    By Angela Nims

    From West St. Paul (Twin Cities), M, MN, 04/12/2008

    Hans's recording took me back to my childhood walks through the woods in rural Iowa, and more recently, to camping trips throughout Minnesota. Simply, it was the highlight of my day. Thank you.

    By Lorette Alexander

    From FL, 04/12/2008

    You must truly live in Eden. Just viewing the pictures on line has such a calming effect, what must it be like to see it everyday? Heaven!

    By Kathy Morley

    From Fort Calhoun, NE, 04/12/2008

    Yes! Finally someone has expressed the pure bliss of nature's own symphony of sound. While music often touches our souls, natural sounds can stir emotions, provide total relaxation, and give us some of the best moments life has to offer. Put down your ipods, stereos,and earphones----take a walk, open your ears and truly listen!

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