Early this morning I took a walk. It was before the sun rose, and a breeze lifted leaves and pollen from the sidewalks and swirled around my feet. Bubo was on my shoulder, and as we so often do, we walked through the Green-Wood Cemetery, enjoying the quiet that so rarely graces Brooklyn.
We walked beneath the trees and wound around the gravestones and it felt as though the earth were telling us a great secret, barely audible at first. Soon the wind was whipping through the trees and there was an explosion of leaves, flowers, pollen and feathers. Then that low rumble. As I often mumble, something wicked this way comes. Usually this means Mordecai is on the move, but he’s laid up in bed with a fever and Charles is reading him the complete works of Dostoevsky.
This brings us to susurrus. This noun is pronounced soo-SUHR-uhs and means a whispering or rustling sound. From the Latin susurrare – to hum, to whisper, the first documented use of the word was 1826. And, naturally, you can use the verb susurrate (to whisper, murmur) or the adjective susurrous (full of whispering sounds) to round out your vocabulary.
One might say that Bubo and I experienced a low susurrus before the wind created the botanical explosion in the cemetery. One might also say that a violent storm is often preceded by a susurrus of anxiety and power. One might say a lot of things, my dears, and it is important that one has a full vocabulary with which to speak.