This weekend brought the first real snow of the year, which makes things feel a little more new than some old crystal ball dropping.
There’s nothing like a fresh coat of white to give you the sense of things wiped clean. God’s way, I suppose, of saying Okay, let’s have a do-over.
My little corner of the world is generally a quiet place.
You get the normal neighborhood sounds of a place set against forest and mountain—kids playing and mommas hollering, dogs that never seem to stop barking, juncos and cardinals singing in the pines and the occasional scream when some poor woman goes out the front door to find a deer standing in her yard. There is a soft heartbeat to country life. It comes steady and sure and you come to stake your existence on it. By those things you know the world is all right and things are mostly as they should be.
But it all goes different once the snow flies.
Get four or five inches on the ground and all that noise stops, even the dogs, leaving everything so quiet and still you can hear your own breaths and feel your own blood moving. As a boy I wanted to be outside as soon as the first flake fell, wanted to tear up every bit of whitened ground. As a man I’m outside just as early, but wanting to keep all that white right where it is for as long as I can. I want to soak in that silence. I want the quiet to move in me.
If I have a single wish for you at the start of this year, it’s just that—for you to get a little quiet inside.
I’ve been gone from this little website for a while—fine, a long while—trying to get a novel finished (and it is, for the most part. Look for Steal Away Home sometime next Christmas and Some Small Magic early this March, which you can pre-order on the cheap right now at Amazon). But in all honesty it wasn’t the book-writing alone that kept me away. Things got a little crazy around election time. Things are still a little crazy, really. It got to the point I couldn’t go anywhere online without having to hear people yell and scream at each other, and it came to the point I needed away from it all for a bit. I have two teenage kids in the house. Yelling and screaming, I hear plenty. Didn’t need any more.
So I sort of checked out from everything for a while. No news, no commentary, and the only books I read were written by people long gone from the world. And you know what I found? Quiet. It was like a January snow, only coming down inside me.
You could say I’m a little worried about the state of things.
I’m not talking about politics or the economy or the social ills that plague us now and forever. I’m talking about us. At some point along the way we’ve forgotten how to talk to treat one another, going from “I’m right and you’re wrong” (which is fine) to “I’m right and you’re an idiot” (which isn’t so much) to “I’m right and you’re evil” (which is . . . well, I don’t know what that is, but it’s bad). We don’t think of one another as souls anymore, but a mass of opinions.
More than anything else right now, it’s quiet we need.
Time to catch our breaths, feel our own hearts beating. Soak in a little bit of silence. There’s time enough to air our grievances. The time to remember we’re all in this together? That might be slipping away.
As for me, there’s till snow on the ground and a path through the woods. I believe I’ll take it and go listening for a bit.