Since coming back from Christmas holidays my mind has been thinking of an article I read some time ago describing the sounds of winter in the north. I wish I could remember the name of the author, but since I can't I will to make my own description.
Walking around town, to and from school, heading out on the land, they are all linked by sounds. In town we don't really have many traffic sounds, no horns blaring or the sounds of busses and transports laying on the brakes. Instead there is the buzz of skidoos skidding on the ice or cutting through the snow. Hondas have their own roar are they rip through town laden with kids joyriding or people out doing their shopping. The only big trucks we have are for sewage, water, and sand; linked by the rumble of their engines and the clinking of the chains on the tires. Mornings and evenings are marked by the sound of howling dogs; saying hello, goodbye, and anything else you can think of. It seems are if 7am is one of their best times to converse, if I ever sleep through my alarm I can always hear the dogs. Comforting thought in a way.
Then there are the noises we make. The kids calling and shrieking to one another as they play in the snow, sliding down the hills and snow banks, chasing the odd puppy or too around their house. When walking anywhere you become aware of the sounds that comes from your own movements. The material of snow-pants and parkas has a distinct swishing sound. The crunching and squeaking of boots on the dry snow as you tramp through the tundra. There is also an absence of sound from within the tunnel of a parka hood. WIth the hood up on my parka I find that my sense of hearing is almost completely deprived.
The final sound is the wind that often blows through and around the town. It lightly teases flags and fur, blowing softly, barely a whisper. It picks up, slapping cables against houses, snapping flags, pulling the breath from ones body. It builds to a howl that warns of and accompanies a blizzard as it roars through town, closing over and blocking out almost every other sound as people and animal take refuge from the storm. Until finally the quiet returns to signal the end of the storm and the town begins to stir again, digging itself out from the snow.
Many people have asked me how you live with the quiet of the North, and I have to laugh a little as I try to explain the difference in the sounds between north and south. For myself, right now I'd take the quiet sounds of the north over the constant noise of the south any day.