Thursday, October 31, 2013

What counts as silence?

I'm sitting by the open front door, listening to the wind stir the dry leaves still clinging to the enormous oak tree that anchors my front yard.  Crickets are sleepily chirping, the temperature must be hovering around 60oF (based on the formula I use in physical chemistry).  The voices of nervous parents and excited children periodically splash through the door.  The leaves crunch and out of the darkness materializes a sparkling dinosaur or a vending machine or a coterie of rag dolls."Trick or treat?!" They dash off again, advertising their victory ("Dots!") at full volume.

I remember the years when this was a noisy night of chaos, juggling dinner and office hours and our own trick-or-treaters' rounds and baths and bedtimes.  Tonight the silence pours over and around the house, despite the noise from the street.

Why should the wind through the pines, the sand storms, and the squall upon the sea, all count as silence, and not the pounding of the factory machines, the rumbling of the trains at the station, and the clamor of the engines at the intersection? - Madeleine Delbrêl

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