Sounds of silence wandering outside the lines in the snow

Wavering footprints through the snow near Silver Lake, Bellingham, MA

We were returning from a short walk in new fallen snow when I spotted our tracks. We had ventured outside right in our neighborhood near Silver Lake in Bellingham, MA, where an old trolley line railbed still stands in the woods near our house. The rail bed is a straight line; the path our footprints followed was not. Despite the clear template of the railbed, our footsteps wandered back and forth through the snow.

Remnants of witch hazel fall blossoms stand out against the new fallen snow

I smiled. No, we people do not stick to the lines set out before us. There was much to see on this day after a heavy snow. Multiple witch hazel shrubs were weighed down in the snow, their fall blossoms of a few weeks before now frozen and discarded as winter sets in.

This stream was silent this past summer, bone dry. Fall rains and newly fallen snow transform the landscape and soundscape as well

The stream that this summer had been bone dry is now filled, nearly overflowing its banks, as it tumbles through the adjacent woodland.

We spotted one other set of tracks, snow shoes, which I later confirmed belonged to my neighbor, who had gotten out earlier than we had.

The snow was deep, more difficult to navigate than what remained in our yard. Could it simply be a matter of what the wind blew? Our house is at the top of a hill, an esker, while the trolley line path is below, next to the wetlands that offer in spring the orchestra of spring peepers.

Newly fallen snow silences to sounds that distract us

In this time with new fallen snow, the loudest sound was silence. Snow muffled nearby road noise. Still air held the cold. The tumbling of the stream over rocks created that oh, so sweet gentle symphony of rushing water as it made its way to the Peters River, and eventually to the Blackstone River, miles south of us.

Happy time in the snow!

Thus winter begins in earnest. It will not stay this way–rain will soon wash snow into the streams, filling them to the brim. More snow may arrive, or not. We wait and wonder. Watch your step, and happy trails!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

10 responses to “Sounds of silence wandering outside the lines in the snow





    • Marjorie

      Hah! I added the sounds of a burbling brook in the link, plus the sound of spring peepers, hope for the spring, but could not figure out a scratch and sniff 😉 Merry Christmas!

  2. Ellen

    This makes me so nostalgic for New England winters! I have been outdoors gardening in 60-degree weather for the past three days. Lovely, but there is nothing like sitting by the fire in a cozy house and watching the snow fall.

    • Marjorie

      I knew, growing up in S. Florida, that I was missing something really special. Since moving here to New England for college, I have never ceased to wonder at the miracle of snow. It really is wondrous. Thanks for reading and commenting. Merry Christmas!

  3. Lovely post, Marjorie. Almost ALMOST made me wish to experience it. Got ahold of myself, though.

    • Marjorie

      🙂 🙂 INdeed, while I understand, I am still glad to live in a place where there is sure to be snow. Thanks for reading and commenting. Merry Christmas!

  4. Lovely post, Marjorie! Almost ALMOST made me nostalgic for New England winter. Then I got a hold of myself.

  5. Lovely post, Marjorie! Almost ALMOST made me nostalgic for New England winter. Then I got a hold of myself!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.