A quiet season

Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness. ~Mary Oliver, Snowy Night

Late last night, Angel and I ventured outside into the deep snow. It had been snowing for two days, a wet heavy snow not easily moved aside with a broom.  As we stepped away from the porch lights, the world glowed in the dark, everything covered with a thick white coat that gleamed in the starlight. It was the quiet that struck me, though. There was not a sound to be heard, no distant cars, no breeze moving the trees, no voices. As we stood there drinking in the silence, a Great Horned Owl sang his deep hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo in the woods behind us. It was just me and Angel and the owl, sharing the silent night. 

I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ~Lewis Carroll

My life has been quiet for the past several months. Retiring in August triggered a need to turn inward, to catch up on years of lost sleep and the energy drain of too many projects. Instead of writing, I began reading. Instead of pushing through the mid-afternoon slump with coffee, I took long naps. As I drifted through the days and weeks and months, I was content to stay home and spend my days in quiet introspection. 

Winter is a season of recovery and preparation. ~Paul Theroux

As Mother Nature moves into her quiet season here in western Pennsylvania, I finally find myself refreshed and slowly turning back to the world. I sent out Christmas cards for the first time in years. Decorating the house was a pleasure instead of a chore. I’m wrapping up my Watershed CD project and will be making the music available publicly in a week or two.

Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The snow continues to fall here, creating a winter wonderland that is all the more welcome since I have no place I need to go. Whichever holiday you celebrate at this time of year, I wish you peace and joy. Stay safe, have hope, and enjoy the quiet of the season.

Welcome, winter. Your late dawns and chilled breath make me lazy, but I love you nonetheless. ~Terri Guillemets

35 thoughts on “A quiet season

  1. Such enchantment your offer here. I could wander a long while in garden and look forward to more photos as well as writings. I hope you find more time to this blog. I’m glad for you that your retirement offers such fine moments. I feel the same way even though it has been a few years now! I look forward to hearing more music. Best to you and yours.

  2. Your beautiful poetic post seems to perfectly match your situation, Lynn. Slowing down in order to enjoy the simple things of life more – we all need more of that. Lovely snow scenes – a real treat for us in the UK. We haven’t seen anything like this for years. Lovely woods – do look after them if you can. I’ve been reading some of John Muir’s writings about wilderness in the US. He would have loved your woods. Very best wishes.

    • Richard, I always welcome your presence here. I see that you have a rich and varied library of posts to read on your site and I can’t wait to begin! Yes, the woods around us are to be treasured – from them come the many butterflies, moths, and birds of all kinds. Life is rich in the woodland and I treasure it and protect it. We live a mile from a 3000 acre county park that is mostly woodland so there is some continuity here of environment and friendly habitat for all creatures. John Muir is one of my heroes – so eloquent and passionate about the beauty of our country – I’m delighted to hear that you are reading him. I wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas and holiday season – peace.

      • Great to hear of your wooded country park. There are far too few woods left here in the UK. Trees are on my mind at present. I’m about to read another N. American book, ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Kimmerer about your First Nation People’s gentle attitude to the natural world. You may know it.

  3. Thank you for this peaceful dose of beauty, Lynn – or is it a beautiful dose of peacefulness? I can imagine that silence- I remember that wonderful hush of fresh snow, especially at night. (It’s good to have a dog urging you outdoors, right?).
    Your description of the first months of retirement seems appropriate for 2020. I think the timing worked very well.
    I love that fat, fat cap of snow on the Arborvitae(?) – wow, the snow IS getting deep. The garden in winter – so beautiful!
    How wonderful that you don’t have to think about trying to get to work. You sound very centered. The final quote is a gem.
    Take care and enjoy the holidays!

    • So good to hear your voice Lynn. I’ve been hibernating and/or ruminating for many months now – yes, it is very good to have a dog that urges me outdoors. 🙂 The fat cap of snow is on an Alberta Spruce – wonderful slow-growing evergreen.
      Not having to go in to work is a delight – every day is a snow day or Saturday, depending on the season. Happy holidays to you!

  4. Sounds like you granted yourself a much-needed time of both healing and gestation, Lynn…can’t wait–but will, in peace–to see what creation comes of it. May your retirement continue to yield gentle peace, constant gratitude and continue wonder. Thank you so much for your light and gifts in the world and all the energy it takes to tend them. And GREAT hugs and smooches to Angel from all at Full Moon Cottage.

    • Healing and gestation – that’s a wonderful way to put it, Kitty. It’s always wonderful to connect with you – your wise words make me think in new ways. Blessings and peace to you and GREAT hugs and smooches from Angel to everyone at Full Moon Cottage. Peace.

  5. Happy solstice to you. Retirement has let you stand still too, so to speak, but unlike earth’s careening now toward the renewed activities of spring, you can remain calm. Someone else recently quoted that Mary Oliver passage, and I said that it reminded me of Emerson’s “The Rhodora”: https://emersoncentral.com/texts/poems/the-rhodora/, with its famous assertion that “beauty is its own excuse for Being.” The outdoor photographs you’ve offered here certainly exemplify the reduced-color mode of the land at this time of year, especially after a snowfall. What you said about the silence is something I remember from the times when I was a kid out shoveling snow, when the only sound came from the scraping of the aluminum shovel.

    • Loved the Emerson poem, Steve – I was familiar with the quote but don’t believe I’ve ever read the entire poem before. I remember those snow shoveling times too, although I was usually with my brothers who were not quiet at all! Still, the sound of the snow shovel is iconic in the cold north. Happy solstice to you too!

  6. There’s a special kind of peace when there’s a new fall of snow. Happy Christmas! And I hope that 2021 brings a happy and healthy year that allow you to really enjoy your retirement.

  7. What a lovely winter wonderland. Sounds like you’ve got Christmas sorted. Enjoy the peace and quiet and a good year ahead. I look forward to seeing many more photos of your lovely garden.

    • Thank you, Jude. Not sure if you get this kind of snow in your part of England. Peace and quiet are highly valued here this year and now is the time that I’m thinking about the garden for the coming year. I must admit that I neglected it this summer along with many other “obligations”. It will be tricky to get it back in shape but I’m looking forward to the challenge. Happy Christmas!

      • We barely get any snow in England any more unless there is a freak storm from the east. 2018 saw snow in Cornwall for the first time in 4 decades! It did a lot of damage to the tender plants. A good time of year for garden plans ☺️

  8. We got about 18″ the other day when PA got a lot more. We weren’t suppose to get snow today, but it’s been coming down for a while now. Winter is definitely here. Your tree is beautiful. Enjoy your new found freedom from outside work and have a happy holiday.

  9. How beautiful, Lynn! Thank you for sharing your journal, so inspiring! I will never forget when you & Bill first arrived at Duquesne University—the collective energy in the music school took on a “deep and wide” feeling of collaboration and possibility! I never set foot in the lab per se, for a class or rehearsal (and hope by now all music majors do have technology as part of their curriculum) but saw results of your work with students and ensembles once your work was launched as a staged performance. Kudos, congratulations to you both for an awesome partnership building programs, labs and processes to support creative growth for so many. Here’s what I’ve been up to with the Rocky Mountain Flute Choir-for our virtual fall season. https://youtu.be/x0naLViSEsY

  10. It is a special time, isn’t it, when there is a new blanket of snow and nothing has ventured forth to do something about it. The animals are mostly still tucked away some where, and mankind has not yet started to clear it from paths and drives.
    Happy Holidays!

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