Welcome, Winter

_C1_9951There was almost a reverence to the muffled hush that a soft snowfall brought here, like when no one wants to whisper too loudly in the church. My breathing took the place of the earlier day’s wind. No one’s footsteps mingled with the crunches of mine. Police cars, an ambulance and a fire truck rolled past, their sirens silenced.

_C1_9959 smallYesterday brought the first wave of winter to much of the lower Midwest. Here it included a dose of freezing rain, more sleet than I think I’d seen in my entire life, then hours and inches of soft snow. The snow and cold are unusual here, and nearly everyone retreated to warmth. Even the highway was quiet when I took a stroll.

_C1_9940 smallNow and then the sounds of a few oddities broke the apparent solitude, like the beeping of the bulldozer backing up in the Wal-Mart parking lot (because why not?) or the sound of a ghostly flock of geese against the sepia sky.

_C1_9995 smallIn a nearby neighborhood, four deer darted ahead of me, quiet as the snow. They were fast. I only got their hoof prints.

_C1_0010 smallMany parking lots had that one car, that one single vehicle that surely must have carried some intrepid customer or stoic employee. Others were empty.

_C1_9975 smallAnd then there were the lights, shining on snowflakes that danced like sparks beneath them.

_C1_9996 smallFinally I came to a small graveyard near here, where the reverent stillness seemed most appropriate. The grave markers would’ve been invisible without the snow, but there they were, dotting a hill that overlooks the western edge of town. _C1_0016 smallMy nose and cheeks protested the cold, but I stood for a moment, thinking about all I didn’t know about these graves. The snow kept falling.

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