Sunday, December 27, 2009
Listening to winter quiet
Reluctant to bring my morning journey to an end, I stopped outside our door. The crunch under my shoes echoed, then faded. My breathing calmed. The air settled around me, and I listened. Nothing. I heard nothing. There can be nothing so quiet as a winter morning under a snowy blanket. Even the sound of a passing car is muted. Dawn would not break for a few minutes and I soaked in this deep silence.
Seldom do we experience complete silence. Radios, TVs, traffic, phones, lawn mowers, the furnace blowing, the dishwasher cycling, devices of all sorts plugged into our ears. We are wired with sound. And even when everything external is turned off, it's hard to escape the internal noise - a remembered tense conversation, a project gone off track, a looming deadline, the mounting 'to do' list, a calendar teeming with meetings - all clamoring for mental space. When can we ever just be quiet?
Winter night is so different than summer evenings when crickets and frogs and cicadas fill the dark with their cacophony. When wind ruffles leaves. When windows and doors are flung open and everyone's sounds fill the night air.
This morning, in spite of a temperature that hovered in the teens, the quiet invited me to stay outside to revel in clean, pure, sweet, quiet. Then to wait and wonder when something would break the silence of the black and white morning.
Finally it came, the clear call of a cardinal. I looked around, following the sound. There he was, a tiny dot of blood red on a distant limb. Not long after, a junco flitted by. The birds do not sing in the winter as they do during the summer when the competition is on to attract mates, but just as surely, the birds are here, giving voice to the morning.
As the sun rose, so did the birds. Blue jays. Crows. Gold finches turned winter gray. Their calls brought life to the winter morning. Following the lead of the birds, getting busy with the day, I grabbed the snow shovel and went to work clearing the sidewalk.
Those few minutes of pure quiet calmed my mind, refreshed my body, raised my spirits. Pure quiet. What a gift.
Posted by Carol Bodensteiner at 3:41 PM