February 24,2011 Late winter….
Towards the end of February I am as ready as anyone for spring to arrive in New England. Bone chilling cold weather and getting from one place to another during snowstorms is always a challenge. Yet over the months there is a part me that has slowed down, conserved my energy, and with a tugging ambivalence regrets the end of winter…if only because the sound of snow will be gone.
The sound of snow you ask? Yes. Snow falling has a particular sound but you must be away from traffic, conversations, cell phones, ipods, and bustle of everyday life to hear it. For me the best place to listen is in the woods when it begins to snow…
I remember when I first became aware there was a sound of snow. I had been hiking for some miles deep in the woods one cold afternoon with grey skies. It was a particularly wonderful hike because I was so in tune with my surroundings. I spotted the tracks of deer, rabbit, cat fisher, fox, turkey and coyotes as I rambled along often veering off the trail to look for more tracks. The frozen branches of trees above me sometimes cracked and swayed in the wind as the crunch of my boots on snow was the only other sound I could hear.
I started later than I had planned to hike that day and as I climbed to the top of a steep hill overlooking a valley, I sensed that darkness was moving in quickly. I needed to get back to the road where my car was parked. I knew the area well and wasn’t concerned about getting lost but the woods at night is harder to navigate.
I stopped to get my bearings when in the deep silence of the moment…a soft barely perceptible sound emerged which I realized was the sound of snow beginning to fall. I listened keenly, like a bird with its head to the ground listening for worms, and I could hear the snow. It was a lovely, soft, gentle sound, just a decibel above silence, barely audible yet distinctly there. As I listened, a deep intense joy flooded me and I felt divinely privileged that I was here to share in this moment. A profound feeling of being connected with The Source of All That Is… filled my heart and my inner most being. The darker it grew around me, the more light I felt inside. I don’t know how long I stayed in this reverie but eventually a practical voice inside urged me to move on…
As the snow grew heavier the trees quickly became a soft white blanket lighting up what was a frigid darkness as I made my way down the path. I was tired and cold and yet I felt a certain reluctance, a hesitation about leaving the woods as if there was something more to come, something unfinished. I wanted to feel that deep connection again…
Suddenly at that moment came the soft ‘’hoo hoo’’ of an owl off in the distance. It felt like an invitation so I waited…. and a few minutes later a distinct and louder hoot came forth. I paused for a second and then called out my own ”hoo hoo” grateful for this shared moment between us. I felt blessed and quietly complete.
As I turned and walked out of the woods, I smiled to myself knowing this was a special connection I had shared with the owl… it was clear we both loved the sound of snow.