The Silence

Every now and then, often after having gone outside to put trash in the can or something of that nature, I have to pause and listen. And listen. There are so many wonderful things to hear all around, all the time. And sometimes things not to hear: what I’ve always loved best about a good snowfall is how quiet the world gets, as if nature is putting its foot down on all the noise and enforcing some quiet for a change.

Here, it’s silent nearly all the time.

To be honest this is a significant change. We live slightly further from a main road than we did previously, and further from the nearest emergency services (though still within three miles of the hospital). We’re in a less-populated neighborhood with quieter neighbors, and are not backed up against yet another neighborhood. Every now and then the intense quiet strikes me profoundly. I told friends at New Years Eve, with complete honesty, that I haven’t heard a gunshot in two and a half months. It used to be a couple of times weekly. We don’t hear constant sirens, they’re at most only audible once a week as opposed to every few hours. There’s not a daily police helicopter circling, just the odd air ambulance headed to the hospital every few days. 

Now, when there’s any noise at all, it’s entirely different. The heavy rains a few weeks ago caused the runoff creek behind the house to swell and begin babbling soothingly. Children playing outside (without screaming, mostly, too). We’ve even heard wild turkeys gobbling away out in the forested area to our east.

Granted it’s not some idyllic place where it’s all peace all the time. This morning the neighbors woke me at 7am making an unusually large amount of noise dragging their garbage to the curb. Several neighbors also have dogs that get set off now and then. And here and there, rather than the air ambulance helicopters, we get what appear to be military Blackhawks flitting about (rare, fortumately, but loud suckers). And the teenage son of our nextdoor neighbors seems to like a bit of bass to his music. I can hardly blame him, and fortunately he keeps it to the daylight hours. Plus there’s the wind: we’re again on a cul-de-sac and we happen to be at the end where all the wind seems to whoosh at us, sometimes causing a lot of wind noise at the front of the house. That’s fortunately uncommon but was alarming until I got used to it.

But most days I have to take a moment, even if just standing out on the deck after I get home from work, to marvel at all the noise I’m not hearing anymore. It’s actually even quieter than my parents’ three-acre wooded lot, because they’re on a busier street than we are. 

I like peace and quiet. I like silence. It makes every little noise seem rather more meaningful and purposeful. Another box ticked in the checklist of “moving was the right thing to do”.