February 1, 2012

Squeak, Ssshhhh, Tink, Knock, Chirp

By Amanda Gillen

I was walking my dog early one morning on a dirt road through the hills of New Hampshire. I took a moment to savor the peace and quiet and closed my eyes. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t quiet at all. There were sounds all around me; I had to close my eyes and open my ears to take them in.

A light snow was falling, the snowflakes small round balls of ice crystals moving quickly to the ground. I heard a steady sssssssshhhhhhhh as the snow hit the ground and trees. As I walked near an oak tree with dried, curled, dead leaves the sound grew slightly sharper. The same thing happened near a beech tree. I moved toward a stand of hemlocks and the ssssssssshhhhhhh was quieter.

My dog was eager to get walking and moved around. The tink, tink of her collar and tags sounded like cymbals against the falling snow. We started walking again, more aware of the sounds around us. Squeak squeak squeak. Each step I took on the cold, packed snow told me how cold it was. My dog walked on the side of the road. Crunch crunch as her paws broke through the crust of snow and ice below.

A woodpecker was busily tapping on a tree looking for food; knock, knock, knock, knock, knockknockknock. I spotted him high in a tree across a field.

A small flock of birds was gathered around an open stream drinking and preening. They were a social group chirping and chattering away; chirp, chirp. A handful of the birds moved across the stream. Their flapping wings sounded like muffled hand clapping.

A car slowly rumbled down the road having its own deep baritone voice muffled by the snow on the road.

I was keenly aware of all of the sounds as I made my way home. The next time you are outside close your eyes. What winter sounds do you hear?

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