Deep cold in winter reminds me of growing up in a small rural town in northern Canada. One winter we had an artic front descend into our area and the temperature plummeted to negative forty for several days and one morning, the temps fell to over negative fifty. Half the town lost electricity. Schools closed. The few businesses in town suspended their services. Outside, the only sound was the wind moving through the snow drifts. It had an eerie appeal as if the snow swirls were ghosts.
When the temperature climbed back to zero, it felt warm. Walking to school, I loosened the wool scarf around my mouth and watched as my breath made little vapor clouds every time I exhaled through my mouth. At recess, I made snow angels on the snowy playground, and then, after school, skipped all the way home, delighting in the thought of a mug of hot chocolate.
So, yesterday, when the temperatures dipped into the single digits, and I got a weather alert on my phone – “Dangerously cold weather. Unsafe wind chill factor. Frost bite and hypothermia will occur much faster” – I thought, that’s not cold! I can still go outside and not have to cover my whole face and I can hear a few chickadees twittering in a nearby tree.
And besides, when it’s really cold, I mean my memory barometer of cold, something extraordinary happens. Animals burrow deep underground or take refuge under an old tree. Owls and winter birds conserve energy and will not hunt or forage for food. It’s as if the forest and everything in it hides and all that is left is silence. A deep all-pervasive silence. The quietness trickling into every living and non-living thing, muting noise and senseless chatter; uniting us all in a feeling of togetherness, a feeling of survival. One earth. One people.
“Listen to silence. It has so much to say.” Rumi
How did you find solace this week?
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