A DIFFERENT VIEW - Winter wonderland full of silence, sounds as well as snow

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The air had a bite to it as my guide dog and I set off on our walk that quiet, frosty morning. Suddenly we jumped when a whirr of wings exploded from almost under our feet; a ringneck pheasant seeking shelter in a clump of weeds next to the road decided to get out of our way. From across the road we heard a calf bawl in distress as he sought his mother; then a soft "moo" quickly quieted the calf.

The road was empty of all traffic, telling plainly that it was still early on a Sunday morning. My guide dog pulled hard, as if he were in a hurry to get home.

We passed several trees alive with the singing of hundreds of snowbirds flitting through the branches. I usually hear these birds as we walk daily in the early morning light; their singing reminded me to check the bird feeder as soon as I got home.

Crossing the creek we heard several mallard ducks as they huddled in some bulrushes along the water's edge and a moment later we heard the cry of a lone Canada goose, flying to a nearby pond to meet up with his companions.

Walking past a tall utility pole we heard the hoot of one of the neighborhood owls as he sat in the dim light surveying his domain.

Then a new sensation made its presence known to me. It was sort of moist but as light as a feather; could that be snow?

Back home, the ground took on a frosty look that later turned into a heavily frosted ice cover. Then it was as if the clouds were tired of holding back their load and decided to dump the snow with a burst of energy, and the world below was soon covered in a fluffy white blanket.

No longer did the dried, yellow grass and mud of yesterday show, but only a glistening, brilliant white, the look of purity and beauty. The evergreen trees drooped their boughs as the snow piled up; even the bare hardwood trees held on to the snow as if they too wanted to dress in white. Thus the snow sifted down to join other small flakes of ice to cover the landscape; one tiny flake added to another showing that it is not only the large things that are important in life but banding together, small things can also make a big difference. The next morning, I knew instinctively that there would be no walk.

With no sidewalks and only the pavement of the road with narrow shoulders, it just wasn't safe for a walk. My guide would want to walk in the car tracks and I knew this would be well out into the middle of the road; I also knew my feet would not be able to detect the difference between the pavement and the road's shoulder. The snow would also muffle the sound of approaching vehicles; walking today would not be a good idea.

I remembered driving on such a road and knew that even the ones driving would have trouble telling just where the road's edge was. The snow continued to fall, slowly increasing the fluffy covering over the land, house and any vehicle left in the open.

Later. I shoveled the walk to at least the dog-relief pad and to the back gate, hoping to make this walk a little safer. But when I took my guide out for his last time that night I found the snow was falling again and another 2 inches of snow lay on what had been a clear sidewalk and pad with the snow filtering under the roof onto the back patio; even the back steps, though well under cover, were slippery with a layer of snow.

In his hurry to return to the house, my guide cut a corner and my head hit a low hanging branch dumping snow down my neck.

When you walk outside, whether to a mailbox, to retrieve the garbage can, or just walking from store to store, take time to hear what nature has in store for you. You may be surprised that there are still so many birds in our area that are so willing to sing just for you. It may be the tune the wind is whistling or the laughing song of a stream, but take time to listen.

Have a great day; remember the daffodils bloom beautifully after the cold winter.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse, retired early due to vision loss. He and his family moved here in 1986. He can be reached at theolcrow@charter.net or 529-9252.

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