The meadows and far sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snow-fall hoods me round;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence everywhere
-from “Snow”, Archibald Lampman (1861-1899)
This past Wednesday afternoon, our office closed early for snow. It’s a rare occurrence at a veterinary hospital, especially in a wintery state like Maine. But it allowed me to come home, with no expectations for the rest of the day, no obligations. It was a gift. Of time.
That afternoon, I remembered another unexpected snow day. A few winters ago, I came home early and burrowed under a quilt on the sofa. I pulled out a thick, hardbound book I was reading, wrapped my hands around a mug of coffee, pulled my dog in close, and put on some soft music. I watched the snow fall thick and slow in the light of the gloaming until I needed candlelight.
Not all of the “moments” that are there for us are pinnacles, milestones, or adrenaline fueled. Some of them sneak up on us, and wrap themselves around us like that quilt.
Isn’t it interesting that from the word “lone”, we get “lonely” and from “solitary” comes “solitude”. One can be “lone” and be at peace and whole, while “lonely” conjures yearning and dependence. And yet one can be “solitary” and enjoy “solitude”.
I think that most people are afraid to be alone. Maybe they fear making their own decisions, or need constant approval of others. Maybe they fear stopping for a moment to appreciate the quiet moments…as if they’ll lose the helter-skelter headlong momentum they feel they need to keep going. Maybe they’ll feel unappreciated, or forgotten, or left behind. I find that I need the time alone. I crave the quiet moments. It is when I can be in a moment of solitude that I can truly appreciate being alone.
For it is then that I can hear the snow.