Listen(ing) to the Quiet

We live in a noisy world.

For those who live in urban-suburban environments, cars, trucks, and sirens are the white noise of our lives. To those in the country, animals, birds, or the hammering of a woodpecker fills the same place.

When one switches environments, urban to country or vice versa, those background noises become almost unbearable just because they are unfamiliar.

We inflict noise on ourselves, filling our lives with TVs or music or game apps to satiate our limited attention spans. We are bombarded by constant communication with texts, phones, and social media alerts.

So it is a rare moment when we can actually listen to the quiet.

In the 1960s and 70s, I became familiar with a poet/songwriter/performer named Rod McKuen. I was introduced to him through my Uncle, Mike Campbell. Mike is no longer with us, but he had a great deal of influence in my life, and my fondness for Rod McKuen (who I will bet few of you have ever heard sing or read any of his books, although I know there are a few) has persisted all these years.

In the title of McKuen’s book, Listen to the Warm, there is a summoning to Listen to that which we would typically not hear. On warm summer days, I often try to Listen to the Warm, hoping to hold onto such moments a bit longer before they flitter away.

But in the dead of winter, especially in places like New Hampshire where I often find myself, one has a real opportunity to Listen to something so rare in our world.


The stillness of silence, if one pays attention, is camouflage. For within the quiet are the secrets of life. It is cathartic.

And there is no better moment to Listen to the quiet than with a walk in a snowstorm.

Everyone who has ever lived in a cold winter climate has mixed feelings about snow. We anticipate it, grow weary of it, marvel at it, curse it, shovel it, slide in it, fall in it, build snowmen, break bones, conquer slopes, unbury our car, and bundle up against its chill.

Yet, just taking a moment’s pause to walk in a snowstorm, in a New Hampshire wood or anywhere away from the noisy cacophony of the world, one can actually hear the quiet. It may be hard to imagine, in a city or even a small town surrounded by modern society’s mechanism, that one can hear snow fall in a quiet forest.

But you can…and it will be magical.

To hear snow falling, it has to be quiet. And to the hear quiet, one must listen for it.

Shhhh…Listen to the quiet


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