January is the month when I welcome silence.
December is gone with all its noise. Gone are the jingle bells, carols in the stores, party music, laughter, and loud conversations in crowded rooms. Gone are the midnight shrieks and horns on New Year’s Eve. Gone are the snaps and snarls of overtired, over-scheduled, short-tempered spouses and children.
Here in the country January is silent.
Silence is almost an impossibility in the city. One summer when we lived in New York there was a blackout. No electricity for a couple of days. Without electricity work was canceled so we sat in our tiny yard and listened. I couldn’t figure out why it sounded so strange. There was almost no traffic, but that wasn’t it. Then I realized that all the air conditioners were silent. Ever after, even on comparatively quiet summer afternoons when everyone seemed to have left town, I’d hear the air conditioners endlessly humming away as I walked down the street.
Of course the country isn’t silent all the time. The country has its own noise. The roar of chainsaws. The crashing of waterfalls and swollen streams. Screaming snowmobiles. The boom and crack of thunder and lightning that reverberates in your breastbone. Coyotes wailing beneath the Wolf Moon. Shotguns and rifles blasting during hunting season. Howling winds, the Montreal Express, racing across the frozen hillside.
Though there is plenty of noise in the country, it doesn’t split the eardrum or flay the nerves. It changes with the seasons and is dispersed across the hillside. Yet in the country, January is the month of silence. Snow falls silently, thickly
blanketing the ground. Sound is muffled by the deep soft drifts. When I walk through the woods, the pines are immobile, bent under heavy white cloaks. The wind merely whispers, the gentle breathing of the sleeping earth, keeping time with the beating of my heart.
Even the sun is silent. No longer does it come up like thunder. It’s light seeps into the day, pale as pearls.
Such deep silence is hard to ignore. I avoid turning to the sounds of the modern world, radios, TVs, records. The news, such as it is, commentary, chatter, even music, can all wait for awhile. I need to fill my ears with silence, and let it penetrate blood and bone. Noise is exhausting and I need to rest. Just for a while.
I don’t wish for endless silence. I wish for balance and rhythm. All music includes rests. A silent beat. Without silence you can’t hear the melody or harmony. You can’t appreciate the beauty of the song.
I love the song of life, the bass line of my own true love, the trilling of the children, the adagio of friends, the timpani of joy, even the beat beat beat of routine, all building to the crescendo of December.
But then rest.