If you've read Dandelion Wine, if you can remember the sound of a human powered lawn mower snicking back and forth across your yard, you may sort of see where I got the catching sounds in jars from.

The rest just wanted to be told.

When I was a child I would capture the sound of laughter in a jar. When someone laughed I would catch that laugh in one of Grammaís old mason jars and seal it up tight. You could hear it echoing around in there.

I collected sounds from outside first. I got bullfrog sound and spring peeper, cricket chirps and June bug whirlings. I snared the sound of Chinese Houses opening with the dawn and the song of the north wind singing of cold in the branches of old man willow. Leaves falling and dandelions fluffing, I had them all in Grammaís old mason jars.

Inside sounds were mostly pretty easy. Doors squeaked all the time. A breeze blowing through the window moved the curtains almost every day. Water flowing, doorknobs twisting, ice clinking glasses of lemonade in the summer and spoons stirring tiny white marshmallows into hot chocolate in the winter; all easily captured.

People sounds were tougher. How do you capture the sound of a blink? How do you get the sound of your fingernail growing into a mason jar? How do you catch the sound of getting old? I had to figure these things out. I wasnít but ten or maybe eleven years old, but I had to. I couldnít not have.

I suppose thatís how I wound up here, thirty feet below the ground, surrounded by tens of thousands of mason jars containing the sounds that made the world I knew, dying.

Seventy-five years I gathered sounds. All over the world I found them. Yaks in Tibet. Childbirth in Ecuador, the childís sounds not the motherís. A hummingbird at rest, wings motionless. I even got the sound of a snake shedding its skin. The moon on a starlit night is quite different sounding than it is when full and shining bright; much louder than I expected.

I once caught the sound of a trout jumping out of a lake when naught but the two of us lived in the world, or so it seemed, it was that quiet. No birds quarking or chirping, no insects buzzing, not a frog calling or a woodpecker pecking, it was silent as my soon to be grave. There I was, out on the lake, mason jar in one hand lid in the other, waiting like I new something would soon be there. Something I wanted, needed, something that was meant for me to find.

And then it happened. One second the water was flat as a mirror, showing nothing but the grey reflection of the cloud filled sky, not a ripple to be seen as far as my sight would reach. The next second up out of the water and five feet above my boat is the biggest trout I ever laid eyes on, three feet if an inch and big as the blade of my oar. Red and purple, spotted in black with a great beak of a nose, there he was, just in front of me, looking me in the eye, before the sound of his explosion from the water had even reached my ears.

Up shot my hands and the left slammed the lid onto the jar in the right, or vice versa, I was ambidextrous back then, and I had it, the sound a fish makes leaping from the water on an otherwise soundless day. That one is a treasure. Iíve heard live symphonies that could learn from that trout, it was that beautiful.

And now it was gone. All gone. The song of the wind in pine boughs is still alive, I have several hundred. The trees are all gone though. So is the wind. Itís all gone now. The frogs leap, caught in a school playground as he and his amphibian friends played hopscotch, the squeal of a swingsetís chain on the first day of school, gone. No more schools, no more swingsets. Destroyed. Obliviated.

My Grammaís Mason jars have the oldest sounds, the purest ones, the ones from before the dying time began. Back when green grass was everywhere and people could walk in the open. The last few years here no one went outside. If the ÖÖ didnít get you then the ÖÖwould. If it hadnít been for the hydro room weíd have all starved. The sound of corn breaking ground makes me giggle to this day. The shoots just sound so happy to be alive.

I have the sound of the fungus expanding as it spread and killed us one by one. Itís moving slower now that thereís only me left, but it still makes a sound. We thought we had escaped it down here, breathing our filtered air and eating our hydoponically grown veggies. But it found us, death did. He and his minions do thorough work.

Iíll try to capture the sound of my dying. Iíll have a jar in my right hand and the lid in my left, the hand held up directly over the jar by a string tied to my chair. When I slump over the string will be released dropping my hand holding the lid onto the jar, hopefully catching the sound I make when I exit my body.

Itís labeled, as are all the others, with the date, location and number of samples. Todayís date, our location and Number 1 of 1. On the off chance of someone finding this place, this barren shell of a world and wondering what it was like, here in this room, in these many mason jars are the sounds of my world, the sounds of my life and hopefully to bring it all to a proper and fitting close, the sound of my death. I can hear them all, as I always could, fresh as the day they were taken, calling out to me to hear them. Each jar and each sound unique, each a moment of my life.

Iím tired now and am going to sit in my chair, jar in hand, and hope that I can hear myself leaving as I enter what comes next.