Does "leaf-shushed world" means a peaceful world like when you are in the woods, and all you hear is the sound of fallen leaves under your feet when you step on them?

Freddy wants a tree-house, and I always meant to build one in the copper beech. Nothing fancy – just a sort of tree-borne raft, like the one me and David Ockeridge built in his dad's orchard, when we were kids in Black Swan Green. In my daydream I'd tell Fred that the copper beech is guarding his prezzie, and I'd watch him run down, find the rope ladder, and climb up to a better, leaf-shushed world. The thought of another man building Freddy's tree-house in an ordinary green beech made me hurl my trowel through the shed window. Shark-fins of crashing glass followed the trowel.
Excerpt from David Mitchell's The Massive Rat.

  • Lincoln, leaves don't have voices. You should edit the title to replace the word voice with sound. – Tristan Sep 8 '13 at 16:06

Have you ever had a conversation in an empty house? The lack of furniture or hanging artwork in the rooms can create an odd echo off the stark walls, where you can hear yourself talk in an unfamiliar way.

Acoustic engineers try to combat this using a myriad of diffusion and absorption techniques, to reduce echoes while musicians record their music.

sound rooms

Nature has its own sound room: the canopy of leaves in a well-treed area. When the author mentions

climb up to a better, leaf-shushed world

he is referring to an idyllic time where he, as a boy, would play with his friend in their tree house. We know that the tree house wasn't fancy – just a raft in the trees, so to speak – so why was the world "better"? I'm guessing it was a time of active imaginations and memorable play, and one thing that strikes the author in hindsight is how quiet it was, so deep in the woods, where picturesque leaves suppressed noise in the same way foam cones or angled panels do in a studio.

Can't you just hear how quiet it was out there in the middle of summer, when the leaves were thick, and they shushed the noises from the nearby roadways?

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  • Thank you for your pictures, great answers!I hear how quiet it was in a "leaf-shushed world" , but Im not a native speaker of English, so Im not so sure what it means. – Lincoln Aug 18 '13 at 1:50
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    I mean, if you've ever noticed how quiet it can get in a deeply wooded area, you should be able to imagine that same quietness when you read the author's passage. I think that's what David Mitchell was hoping would happen when people read his sentence. – J.R. Aug 18 '13 at 9:26
  • yes, I think , at least for one time , I have acutually noticed how quiet it can get in a deeply wooded area. – Lincoln Aug 19 '13 at 8:09

"Leaf-shushed world" would mean that the leaves muffle sounds, like drapes and carpeting make rooms quieter.

"Leaf-shushed [world]" is like "waterborne [disease]" or "factory-repaired [appliance]." The verb in each of these is the passive verb, used as an adjective. The preceding noun is whatever is causing the verb's action. In a passive sentence, it would be preceded by "by": "The world was shushed by leaves"; "the disease was borne by water"; "the appliance was repaired by a factory."

Many compound adjectives can be formed using this pattern.

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