Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Collapse LVI: Winter Calm

 22 December 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

This evening, as the snow and wind was slightly less than normal, I took a walk.

The argument could be made that this was an extension of my road monitoring duties – which, to be fair, have been almost nothing since Winter opened up here. No-one is moving very far at all – nor can I blame them. Without the comfort of an automobile to shield you from the weather, it is beyond just an inconvenience to travel – it is potentially lethal, especially with the fact that one does not know what the situation is up the road.

I drifted by the road where I typically turn to go home and continued on into the village, a scant 300 yard or so beyond that. We still have clouds which hold some of the warmth in – no bitter cold night with stars for us at the moment.

The buildings themselves are all decked in snow; one can tell by the amount which houses are still inhabited and which are unoccupied, either through being a summer home or simply by individuals who left. Smoke is drifting up from those that are, creating lazy spirals that spread up.

Perhaps one sees flickering lights – battery powered or even flame – in an occasional window but not often after dark: security and common sense dictate available light (although the smoke will give it way), while prudence means the windows are draped to keep in whatever heat is available.

I know in the past I have tried to convey it to you, but the silence remains pervasive to the point of deafening. No automobiles, no animals, no children out playing or adults conversing. Just the wind rattling trees limbs and the periodic drop of snow and the quiet gurgle of the creek that runs across the road from my house.

I am grateful, of course, for the silence. Silence in this new world can mean peace and relative normality; I suspect there are other places which have nothing but noise at the moment and are the more risky for it.

It makes me wonder, of course: for all those who could not live with the silence, for whom the bustle of civilization was proof of life and joy, how are they faring now? Have they adjusted? Or do they seek to fill even this silence with reminders of a civilization that at least, for now, has been put on hold?

Standing in the snow and philosophizing, of course, makes for a terrible combination with cold feet. So I turned and made my way back to my home.

While I have always loved silence myself, I had no idea until I pondered it how much it represented and what the lack of silence in this new world really meant. Sounds of Silence, indeed.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. I grew up on a farm with no television and we rarely listened to the radio. So in the evenings, our main entertainment was to read a book. Short of hearing the house pop or groan once in awhile, it would be completely silent. It always amused me when people visited us and weren't used to silence. They would squirm and try to make forced conversations, suggest games and many times would make up some excuse to cut their visit short. My amusement lasted until I left the farm for college and it took weeks for me to adjust to sleeping in a "noisy" environment.

    1. Ed, this is very similar to The Ranch where my parents live. Outside nothing but the sound of the winds through the trees, the occasional dog, bird song, and passing cars.

      I find on the whole I do a great deal better in such an environment.

  2. I like silence too. One thing I've become aware of, is how much noise exists in our "quiet" house because of electricity and electronics. Everything seems to have it's own subtle hum, which isn't noticed until the power goes out. Then it's true silence, and it's lovely.

    1. Leigh - It is funny, at least here, how when the power has gone out it takes a moment for me to realize that something is up and then come to the realization that none of the usual electronics are on. It is disorienting when you have grown up with the background hum of gadgets.

      This has been (yet another) benefit of working from home. So much quieter than being in the office environment and I can invite noise in or not as I choose, not trying to constantly keep it out.

  3. Anonymous4:26 AM

    When I was young and a bachelor, my brother and I often spent weekends at the family ranch. Winters were consumed with hunting activities and spring, summer and fall were hiking during the early day. Mid day was spent at camp, under the porch, contemplating the universe. Day time highs were above the century mark. Brutal.

    The two lane road to 'civilization' is approximately a mile and a half away. Yet you could hear the traffic easily, especially if a heavy trailer was traveling. It was rarely completely silent, but compared to the city we resided in - it was a sensory deprivation chamber. :^)

    1. Anonymous - The Ranch does not quite reach the century mark in the Summer but often close; my hometown quite often did. There is a certain desire to not do anything in that kind of heat.

      It is funny how sound travels in such situations, is it not? When visiting my parents on a quiet day, you can literally hear nothing but the wind through the trees. This is so different from any urban environment. I have to ask myself: why do people not want more of that?

      Thanks for stopping by!


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