It snowed last night. Not the two feet we’re predicted to get this weekend – just enough to cover the roads and delay schools for a couple hours. Ever since Catherine was a baby, I always wondered what her experience of snow is – especially since she’s blind. Sure, I’ve made certain she knows what it feels like and how it melts and that you can have fun sledding in it. I even took her skiing so she could know what that’s like. I’ve always thought she really likes the snow. What really captivates my imagination, though, is how it sounds.
On first consideration, you might think, “It doesn’t make a sound.” There is a part of that thought that is true. It certainly falls silently. Yet, in this world where we never hear silence, isn’t that a sound? I think a blind person must be so attuned to sound that the absence of it – silence – is a welcome sound. It’s sort of like when we close our eyes to shut out the world. You can’t close your ears, so snow days bring this beautiful silence, I think, that perhaps lets a blind person shut out some of the world for just a moment.
Have you ever stopped to realize how different the world sounds when it’s snowed? There is less traffic and less activity so that creates less noise. The snow absorbs some of the ambient sounds and that reduces the overall noise level in the world as well. I think the softening of the sounds of the world is magical.
And then, it crunches. If you get enough of it to make a deep footprint, you can hear a reverberating squeak every time you take a step. I can’t think of anything that sounds like it. Sometimes, after the sun comes out and melts a little of the surface that refreezes later in the day, you get a thin icy layer that creates a tremendous crunch when you step through it as if you’re breaking into a hard-shelled candy that reveals a delicious smooth center.
Even when you’re inside, it’s possible to tell it snowed because it sounds different. I always try to tell Catherine when it snows so she can associate the different sound with the cold melty stuff and the slippery fun we get to have. I also want her to know the way the world sounds on those days is special, too. We have some huge fields next to our home. I’m already thinking of building snow tunnels and maybe even an igloo if it really snows two feet on Saturday. And I’ll stop several times to listen to the sounds – or rather the absence of them.