The snow is drifting down at Trout Creek, but the squirrels and juncos pay it no heed. They stay busy burrowing and flitting, feeding. Even so, it is quiet. Too quiet. The pair of great horned owls we’ve had in the tall cedars for several years have not returned. Perhaps it’s too early, or they’ve wandered further north in search of denser forest. Their absence is palpable, even though we rarely saw them.
The color palette is hushed this time of year too. Brown is the primary hue, only brightened by the snow. Most signs of life are dampened too; no green leaves to dance in the breeze, no delectable tender shoots for the deer to eat. A six-pointed buck roamed by last week in a futile search for greens. He was hard to spot in his winter camouflage of bristle brown.
We took a walk last week, up north on the Old Indian Trail, part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Sleeping Bear info It too was silent, the only sign of wildlife in the form of prints and scat. One lone, blustering blue jay pierced the calm, but even it preferred to remain hidden. No other sounds but the wind sighing up high in the firs, and our footsteps crunching on snow-crusted, ice-rimmed leaves.
Silence and beauty are soul sisters, each one weaving purpose and meaning into the other, that we can wrap ourselves in them. It is one of the gifts of the wilderness to be able to experience both together. The pulsing of the mute northern lights. Silently spreading ripples on still water. The shadow of an overhead harrier flitting across your path. The flick of the white patch of a deer’s tail. The sun on its daily trip across the sky. How nice that the tick of the clock, that slave driver of modern life, cannot contaminate the wilds.
The days grow short. May you find some silence in them, in the falling snow, the lighted tree, and the smile of a loved one. God once broke the winter’s silence with a baby’s cry and an angel’s song. It was cold and dark then too. May you embrace the quiet spells with wonder and delight.
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