News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

December 16, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Nothing like the silence of a winter snowfall

I’m not a big fan of cold and snow, but …

I awoke the other morning about 3: 30. There was no apparent reason. The furnace was not grinding away as it has been doing quite a lot lately. The refrigerator wasn’t dropping ice cubes. I hadn’t heard the Tribune-Star hit the front door. There was no splash of rain and certainly no thunder or flash of lightning.

Most of these noises are what they tell me are called “white noises,” noises which are so familiar that you are not aware of hearing them. They may even be a sort of lullaby for sleep along with a blast from the railroad alert or the click of a passing train on the track.

I finally realized that what I was hearing was silence — the silence of a snowfall.

There is no silence quite like it, and we haven’t heard it often for some years. A snowfall silence seems to wrap noise in a sort of blanket which smothers any outside noise. I am told that there is such a thing as “thunder snow,” but I am grateful that I’ve never heard it.

There is a comfortable loneliness in a significant several inches of snow, and it has been some time since I’ve heard, or more exactly NOT heard, that deep and complete silence. Our busy world is a frenzy of noises.

We got quite a lot of snow in Yorkville during winters past. We could sled and ski and ice skate, but my favorite thing to do was to put on a pair of skis, pack a sandwich and some warm broth and follow Blackberry Creek northwest.

Mine were the only tracks as I did my cross-country up the frozen creek, although once in a while our collie, Lady, would go part of the way with me, and her paw prints capered around those I was making.

I don’t claim that the silence was complete. Now and then there was a flap of wings and the raucous call of a blue jay. Sometimes a rustle in the weeds along the creek suggested that a small animal was headed for its burrow after a night of hunting. It was luxury to stop and enjoy a sip of broth and a bite of sandwich before starting home to the traffic and conversation of civilization and all those noises which invade thought and the simple pleasure of being alone to think.

So, there I was at 3:30 a.m. wrapped in a warm blanket, snowy silence and remembered joys. I was comforted and went back to sleep.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to

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