Thursday, January 28, 2010


Something set Murphy the Lodgedog off this evening. I'd been having fun playing variations on hymns on the piano, and at first I figured it was the missed notes she was complaining about.

She spun around a couple of times in the sitting room, barking her head off, so I finally let her out, and followed her, just in case she was going to have a set-to with the neighborhood fox that she couldn't win.

She ran up and down the road barking and carrying on, but it was clear that her heart wasn't really in it. There was nothing there to bark at, and even she realized it, but like a politician, she kept up the sturm und drang for longer than necessary.

When she finally quit barking, I found myself standing on the deck of the lodge in absolute silence. The almost-full moon was shining through high clouds, and a fine ice-mist was in the air. The thermometer showed that it was just below thirty degrees, which in January in the high country is just short of the banana belt.

It was a perfect temperature, and a perfect silence. There really wasn't anything to see. Sheep Mountain to the west was enveloped in mist, though you could see its outline because of the moon glow. There were too many clouds to see stars.

I was shocked by the silence. The silence was the loudest thing in the valley.

The thing about silence is, you can't capture it with a camera and post a video of it on YouTube or a still  picture on your Facebook page. There's no laptop in existence that has a scratch-n-sniff screen to communicate how your other senses become heightened as the silence takes over: You can't describe the smell of the cold air or communicate the feel of the frozen mist falling on your skin or even begin to communicate the scent of silence. There's no way to describe the expansion of your soul as the cold settles in around you and replaces noise with a blanket of ice crystals and muted moonlight and a crisp cold.

Make no mistake, though. The silence of the high country doesn't equate to peace. Stay too long outside, and you become uncomfortably aware that the ice crystals falling on your arms are no longer pleasant; they're just cold. You can only equate silence with peace for a short time before you begin to miss the voices of loved ones and the laughter and the joy of human companionship.

Silence is always a corrective to noise, but it can never replace voices.

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