The muffled quiet of a good snowfall is almost a music of its own. When it happens I like to shut down the whir of the humidifier and furnace for a few moments in order to better relish the blissful hush.
That non-sound is one of my favorites, right along with the songs of peepers in spring or the honking of geese, spring and fall, coming and going.
I react to certain other sounds in my life with a cringe. When the washing machine starts jitterbugging in the cellar, I hear the first bump and fear there will soon be costly repairs or replacements. Our ancient clothes dryer might wheeze every now and then but has always recovered to tumble another day. It’s heard the squeak of the outdoor line and knows that in better weather it will gain several weeks of leisure. The snow blower coughs occasionally, a threat for sure. The dishwasher can make the most alarming rattle when it gets hold of a wooden spoon to fling about. The refrigerator can be counted on to do its job with discreet little humming, most of the time. In the summer when the demand for rock hard popsicles soars with the temperatures the fridge is apt groan loudly and occasionally make a banging sound. I’ve been known to threaten: “Don’t make me call Cocoplum.”
Our cat will sneeze so powerfully we’re amazed she hasn’t blown to pieces. When she makes that sound, it’s time to changes the furnace filter. She’s our canary in the coal mine.
When our children were little we always drove around in cars that were falling apart. Auto problems hit new highs on our way to a vacation. Invariably there would be a sound, a sound that wasn’t there a few minutes ago, a foreign sound. Then a series of thumps. My husband and I would pretend at first that we didn’t hear it. Then we would look furtively at each other.
It was time to face the thumping sound.
But a quick check of our restless little passengers revealed that someone had been kicking something.
“Cut that out” we shrieked in unison. We would be good for a couple of hours before someone else would be drumming on the roof of the car through the open window. “Cut that out!” even louder.
Once we were wakened at 2 in the morning by a loud ghostly wail that permeated every room in the house. We were quite terrified and flirting with the possibility of space aliens. It turned out to be the furnace blower looking for a dose of WD-40. It got it and we all went back to bed.
. The sound of the Rescue truck, even without a siren, is unlike any other vehicle that goes down our road during the night.
Sometimes we hear the sound of a helicopter and worry that some neighbor is taking an unexpected trip to Dartmouth.
There’s the sound of the plow that cuts into the deepest sleep with its message: It’s snowing. There’s the sound of the cat loudly doing her job of putting another dent in the mouse population.
But I still love, most of all, the occasional sound of absolute silence.