Midwinter Silence

I’d like to claim the sky is often quiet, but that would be a lie.  It is, however, always beautiful

Fast paced times and consumer obsession result in loud suburbs.  Spring begins the building season, until late fall _ cement mixers, lumber deliveries, hammers, bulldozers, dawn to dusk.  Earlier spring echoes with chain saws and leaf blowers, which scream into early winter.  Always overhead jets, always around sirens, summer filled with motorcycles, helicopters, trucks, cars, dogs, music, outdoor parties. 

Winter has become the only period of grace, when gentle sounds of nature are not eliminated by mechanical cacophony.  I walk beaches and shores, listening to the crunch of leaves, occasional birdcall, slap of wave on rock, wind in branches, geese flying, profound hush.  Once upon a time, I assume, quiet was a normal state.  In any case, it is unusual enough now that I find myself almost shocked when I pause a moment and hear _ nothing at all.

It is so easy to ignore the common everyday miracles of our existence _ sight and color and sleeping tree limbs.

Like the old but true cliché of steam train whistles echoing for miles across the plains, noise in the suburbs carries more widely than in cities.  Houses torn down across the harbor, trees cut on far hills, garbage trucks many neighborhoods over are easily and always heard.  No barriers baffle any sound, and dense population with money to burn means that something is always being done somewhere.

Once in a while, in midwinter, a deep snowfall will hush even this neighborhood.  At least until the snowplows and snowthrowers come out, around nine or so.  I am guilty myself.  It’s a facet of this way of life never remarked upon in sales brochures. 

In fact, lately, almost everyone stays inside most of the time, shutting away the world with insulation and thick glass.  The few times anyone ventures outside, for a barbecue or to direct garden work crews, they come equipped with loud music.  Which, of course, just adds to the general decibel level.

Sure, another take, why not?  Frigid but lovely as another sunset fades.

Beauty may be an elitist affectation.  Appreciation of the world is difficult when you are starving, threatened, or in great pain.  Perhaps most of our ancestors could not enjoy silence, perhaps, like us, they just accepted their environment, focused on what was important, and ignored the rest.

Everyone today hides from noise.  In hermetically sealed houses, in massively soundproofed cars, in specially designed buffered space at work and restaurants and shops. Or they shield themselves with noise cancellation earphones, or blasting headwear music. 

They miss, thereby, the cries of gulls overhead, the crash of waves, and the more subtle notes of birds in bush, breaking twigs, wind in pines, and footsteps on frozen turf.  My solitary pleasure in midwinter silence. 

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