When the Wind Goes Still

Quiet. That is the first thing you notice is the quiet. It wasn’t the “calm before the storm” sort of tense, waiting quiet that you feel with thunderstorms, the tension in the air before the deluge. No, this was just an evening without the constant sound of traffic. It was a Sunday evening, which tends to be pretty subdued in my part of town, at least when it isn’t cook-out season. I went strolling to take advantage of the chilly but not windy weather, and because I’d been in my office most of the day, working on Day Job things.

Even the usual dogs kept their thoughts to themselves. A few birds cheeped or complained, but they too seemed subdued. The presence of the Cooper’s hawk watching the world from atop one of the larger trees might have encouraged avian reticence. Soccer practice had wrapped up at the school park, and softball season was yet to begin. A dog walker hurried past, stretching her legs to keep up with an eager grey mixed-breed and we waved but didn’t “howdy.” She needed all her breath for trotting.

The sky faded from daytime blue to a subdued twilight blue grey. Quiet filled the air. The dull roar of traffic, blown in by the wind from a highway or the cross-street that marks the edge of “my” territory, remained away. Instead I heard the sound of my steps, when I chose to make sound, the tap of my walking cane on the pavement, and the occasional brush of my jacket sleeve against my side. The faintest hum of vehicles intruded, far softer than I am accustomed to. It isn’t until the wind stops that you realize how much traffic noise intrudes into a “quiet” neighborhood. That evening was one of those times I remembered.

Snow produces silence, a heavy hush. Snow eats sound, devouring it, muffling the world. On very rare occasions, a soft east wind will blow under a heavy overcast, bringing the sound of chimes from a church. Not that evening. Only stillness, the absence of tree noises, the lack of traffic sounds, the resting silence of animals and birds. Snow quiet . . . has a weight to it, encouraging contemplation and lowered voices. The first scrape of a snow-shovel seems an intrusion of sorts, requiring an apology for disturbing the hush. This evening was not that sort of quiet.

By the time I turned toward home, the first evening stars had faded into view. Orion glittered down from the peak of the sky. The seasons turned, for good or ill, and spring would began creeping up on the land. I stopped in the front yard, savoring the stillness, and saluted Orion. He’s my touchstone, my year marker. When everything else goes off-kilter, Orion still rises, distant and serene, chasing the Seven Sisters and Taurus across the sky, his two dogs close behind. A dog barked, the polite woofs of warning from a well-drained home guard. Quiet returned.

I went in to supper.


8 thoughts on “When the Wind Goes Still

    • At least around here, some very well-trained dogs will only bark twice, a sort of polite “I know you’re there. Please keep moving so I won’t have to eat you.” They tend to be calm, relaxed, and very professional. As compared to the poorly-trained and/or very high strung dogs that bark at everyone and everything, for extended periods of time.

    • After spending a bit too much time in the kennel with our 10 month old border collie puppy, I must conclude that a “well-drained” dog is one that goes potty quickly upon request. đŸ™‚

      She has yet to realize that the three cows on the neighbor’s ranch aren’t going to cause any trouble. We’re working on that…

      • Could be worse. A friend found five steers in her back yard one day. Her Border Collie said, “Look what I brought you, Mom!”
        True story. Steers were returned, along with profuse apologies.

  1. I loved the silence after a deep snow-fall. Did that for several years; in Northern Japan for a series of winters, and then again in Ogden, Utah.
    Not only the silence, and the muffled noise – but sometimes the light. When a heavy snow had fallen, the sky was still heavy with clouds, and there was a full moon behind them.
    And it was almost as bright as day – I think that in Russia they call it a ‘white night’. It was marvelous, the few times that we saw such.

Comments are closed.