Pure quiet is hard to come by.
Not long ago, the wild winter winds howled all night. It was the storm before the calm. After several new inches of snow, we were blocked in. I crawled into my coveralls early the morning after the storm to plug in my tractor. As I stepped outside into the darkness of the early morning, I noticed that the wind had died down completely. There was no howling wind, no blowing snow, nothing.
The new snow crunched under my feet in the frigid pre-dawn air as I trudged to the machine shed. I stopped for a minute and took a breath. With the roads drifted shut, there was no traffic on the usually busy county road that passes our farm. The snowplows weren’t on duty yet. The cows in the yard were bedded down and quiet. I couldn’t even hear the usual early truck traffic rumbling on the state highway going into town four miles away, because everything was drifted in. There were no trucks roaring or even birds chirping - only the sound of my breathing.
In today’s loud world, it was a moment of pure bliss. Looking out in the moonlight over the snowpacked rolling hills that surround our little valley, I couldn’t help but imagine the stillness that explorers like Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark might have experienced when they passed through this region 200 years ago, when it was all tallgrass prairie. On a morning like that, the true vastness and quiet of the old prairie must have felt awesome.
These days, something is always blaring. A news junkie like myself loves the real time, 24/7 news cycle. I enjoy the convenience of my cell phone, being able to text my wife during a meeting or when I’m on the road or in the field. Internet, email and computers are parts of our lives and we miss them dearly when they are not working. I like playing Wii with the kids, or listening to music on radio or iPod. It is a fun time to be alive in many ways.
Yet, we all need some down time without the blaring noise of modern life. We need time in the woods and in the pastures, away from field monitors and roaring engines. We need a little silence now and then to calm our nerves and give our senses a rest.
So, on a morning when nothing was blaring and not a noise could be heard literally for miles, I truly appreciated plain, old-fashioned silence.
Then about an hour or so later it was back to reality when my tractor joined a chorus of neighbors in breaking the silence, snorting as we pushed snow away from the drive and the farmstead.