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WOLF: What are some of the best sounds in the world?

COLUMN: Crunch of skates on ice, crackle of a campfire make the list
The crackle of a campfire is a familiar, pleasing sound. (File photo)

Can you hear it?

Not yet? OK, hang in there. The goal is to have you ‘hear’ this piece, if possible for you of course, and without any fancy computer technology.

Prior to Christmas, I absent-mindedly opened a can of diet Ginger Ale (don’t judge). There was no one else home, it was completely quiet and the ‘clack, tssssshhhh’ sound just seemed to resonate more than usual.

Opening of a pop or beer can has to be one of the best sounds out there. Got me thinking. What are the other ‘best’ sounds?

So, with the help of some of my talented Black Press colleagues, here’s a sample of those sounds.

• The crunch, crunch of skates on ice, especially the first couple of steps. Even better if you’re outside on a pond or a lake. Anyone else remember the frightening sound of ice ‘settling’ beneath you when you’re way out above deep water? You thought it was cracking and you were about to meet a watery demise? Still sends chills down my spine.

• The rumble of a V8 engine. Always awesome. Reminds me of days watching my first sports hero, Rick O’Dell, at Western Speedway. Being in the pits or front row and listening as the cars zoomed by in a pack (even more intense at an Indy Car or F1 race) was always memorable. Stick tap (also a great sound) to the sound of an idling dragster or funny car. I’d even toss in the distinctive sound of an old VW engine.

• Harder to find these days, but the smooth slice of a paper cutter.

• My ringtone. The guitar intro by ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ by Guns N’ Roses. Live a Pavlovian dog, I instinctively reach for my phone whenever I hear the song on the radio.

• The ‘hisssssssssss thwack’ sound of a good fastball hitting a catcher’s mitt. Also the perfect sound (and feeling) when you absolutely barrel up on a pitch. Similar to a perfectly piped golf drive.

• The ping of a shot off a metal goalpost. Even better if you’re the goalie.

• A baby’s uncontrolled giggle. Try not to laugh yourself.

• A chainsaw firing up. Same for an old lawn mower.

• My Mum’s voice. Man, I wish we had more videos back in the day. Also the distinctive sound of any family member’s walk in the hall at night.

• A rotary phone when you had a series of higher numbers.

• The noise of a diving board when you jump as high as you can. Also the calming sound after you enter the water.

• The first bite of a foldover kettle chip.

• The woosh tearing off the metal lid on a fresh container of tennis balls.

• The pleasing slice of scissors skating atop wrapping paper.

• The staccato popping of bubble wrap.

• The thunderous ending to a fireworks show. (Dogs don’t agree).

• Thunder itself. And lightning. And pounding rain outside your window.

• The crunch of your boot steps in fresh snow, while you’re otherwise surrounded by a cloak of white silence.

• The rush of a raging river. The calming sounds of waves lapping on the beach.

• The school bell/buzzer to end the day.

• The piercing shriek of a boiling kettle.

• Birds chirping outside your open window on a summer morning.

• The flapping of sheets, hanging on a clothesline and dancing in the breeze.

• The bang of ‘caps’ from those little toy guns back in the day.

• The ‘cheep, cheep, tweeet’ of Mattel Classic Football, still the world’s best electronic game.

So, have you ‘heard’ any of them yet as you read along?

Here’s some more, from my colleagues:

• Guitar fuzz set just left to sustain.

• The Seismic Charges from Star Wars.

• R2D2’s screams when something goes wrong.

• The sound of a really nice bike freehub when it spins.

• The crackle of a campfire.

• Loons at a lake (the birds, I hope).

• Distant train horns.

• A dog snoring; a cat purring.

• Anchor chains, plane engines and train whistles.

• Those chimes that precede announcements on the ferries.

What are some of your favourites? Anything not listed here that resonated with you? Let me know.

PQB News/VI Free Daily editor Philip Wolf can be reached by email at or by phone at 250-905-0019.

Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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