Listening to Silence


I’ll admit that a photo of a buffalo standing in the snow doesn’t immediately make me think of Christmas, but then I didn’t promise that all my photos and stories would be holiday themed.

I suppose I should have spent this final Saturday before Christmas in preparing for that celebration. Certainly every store clerk thinks it should be the focus of my life. “Are you ready for Christmas?” they all ask. I answer “No.” because that is much shorter than launching into a speech about how complicated that question is. I’ve written about being ready for Christmas. It isn’t something that I do. There is never a moment where I sigh and think “Now I’m ready.” I always arrive at the holiday unprepared in one way or another.

Which brings me back to the buffalo. Instead of spending today with lists and shopping in an effort to be prepared, I spent the day visiting. Mostly I visited people, but since I was in the neighborhood, I also drove out to visit the animals and silence on Antelope Island. As I drove across the causeway I thought how nice it would be if I could get a picture of a “Christmas” buffalo in the snow so I could write about it. I didn’t expect that. Usually I only see the buffalo from afar, but this one was standing right by the road.

I also saw several dozen jack rabbits.
They were less obliging about posing for photos.

I stood for a while outside my car and just listened. It is so silent on the island that I can hear the flap of birds’ wings from a hundred yards away. I heard a coyote crying out from over on the mountain. Sometimes a car would drive by, ripping through the silence with machine noise, but the silence came back and filled me. With nothing around me but the sounds of far off animals, my thoughts slow and still. I find calmness inside that I often forget is there when I’m surrounded by my comforts and their attached responsibilities.

Wild places have no expectations of me. They just are. When I’m in one I’m more able to just let myself be as well. I wish that Antelope Island were closer to me than a 90 minute drive. I would sneak away there more often.