The quiet of the storm

A big snow stills everything. The world grinds to a halt. Finally. One day some years ago I was home alone and the electricity went out due to a particularly wet storm for three days. There was nothing to do but feed the fire and read in a sleeping bag with cups of tea.

This was before the world spun just a little bit out of control in 2011 and it was deemed necessary that we be warned or firefighters check up on us every time we get a miniscule amount of snow. This was before we were so connected a snow day just means a day to work at home and spend your time not working cleaning up snow instead of driving to work and back: just another chore to be gotten out of the way. How sorry I feel for a world that doesn’t know how to take its lucky breaks as breaks.

But the world still stops at night when the snow is coming down hard and long. I suddenly notice the absence of sound. No car has passed for quite a while. No wind is blowing. I can hear from the house that everyone out there has gone to ground and the forest has quieted under its blanket. But the dog needs to pee as do I before bed so we put on boots and coats — no boots for him — and wade through the snow to the road.

And it is still and close around me, the world where I am in a tiny circle with tiny flakes coming down leisurely but always coming and scattering yet catching the light from the house and lighting me and lighting the dog at the end of the line where I often can’t see him at night as he tries to sniff out a smell and — amazingly — finds a smell under all that snow there is at least 3 feet of it now in the banks along the road.

If the snow were to keep falling so much that there would be no electricity I might spend the day tomorrow reading in a sleeping bag and feeding the fire before venturing outside with the dog in the storm and as we take refuge from the numbing winds on the bog in the forest to feel the comfort of the tufted cover of snow that keeps the world of the very small creatures on the ground at freezing point we hear the stillness caused by all those little lacy particles of spun water breaking up the sound in the air and on the branches and the ground and the tall fencepost where it still — just — manages to poke up out of the bank.

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