In the stark, cold winter
The mighty tree stands bare
Stripped away of all its former glory
Now possessing strength that it didn’t know it had
Able to stand in majestic beauty, cloaked in white.
-Amy Lyon Smith
Silence. An emptiness of sound. A quiet hush upon the air. This is what a fresh blanket of snow means to me. I grew up in southern Florida, so snow is new to me, but silence is not. When you think of my hometown, Naples, you think of white, sandy beaches and balmy breezes. And while this is a magnificent feature of the town, which I relished in as a teen, I grew up farther inland. A place where you are surrounded by slash pines, palmetto bushes, cypress trees, and flat land as far as the eye can see. My parents were city kids who fixed up an old school bus into a home, drove it out to some land they had bought in the middle of nowhere and began a life with a three year old (that’s me). But that story is for another time. The silence of the country, with only the sounds of the animals in the woods and the stars being the only light surrounding you, brings a feeling of comfort to my soul.
I knew that silence would be what I would get to experience on Saturday morning, after the winter storm finished its work. I live near a road in my neighborhood, a neighborhood that people use as a cut through, and there are cars that pass by frequently. I knew that only the occasional snow plow would be passing by and I wanted to relish the silence. I wanted my footsteps to be the first to walk to apple tree in my front yard. To experience some kind of one with nature as I walked there. This apple tree has been there longer than the two years I have spent in this home. Part of it is dead and will need removed. The other part produces apples, but not ones that we eat. Those apples fed the doe who entered my yard everyday and ate from it. When she stopped returning, I saw a doe and fawn very near my house, in the direction she would always come from. I like to think my apple tree nourished her throughout her pregnancy.
I also wanted to walk over to the giant tree that sits alone upon the hill across the street. I can see this tree from my kitchen, my back porch, and from my front yard. I drive past it on my way home. It is huge, and it calls to me. I wonder how old it is and what changes it has seen. I cannot begin to estimate it’s age, but I would guess that it would take 3 grown men with a decent wingspan to get their arms around its trunk. It has been here for longer than I have and I imagine it will be still be standing there long after I am gone.
I stand there in the silence under its branches. I have an urge to just sit there and rest my back upon it looking high up into its branches, but there is snow and I have no proper winter clothes. So I stand there and watch the birds flit here and there, singing in the early morning and I am reminded of a quote I recently read – A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, but because it has a song -Maya Angelou. I think about the journey that I have been on… a journey with God, a journey with myself… and I still don’t have an answer, but I have a song. I am growing and I am changing. I have followed where he has led. I do not like the winter or the cold, but as I stand there in that silence, in that moment I am thankful for the cold. I am thankful for snow. I am thankful for that silence. I am thankful for this journey. And I am thankful for this life.
Let your light shine!