A Reluctant Goodbye To Winter

601 Words3 Pages
JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, essayist Julia Keller of the Chicago Tribune says a reluctant goodbye to winter. TV REPORTER: It is really coming down, very convective in nature. We've had... JULIA KELLER, NewsHour essayist: Here in the Midwest, the winter of 2009 has been a wicked one. The snow, like those legendary Chicago voters, came early and often. It's been diabolically cold, as well, which means that, when the snow came, it stayed. It clogged roads, and closed schools, and turned daily life into one long, obnoxious slog, an endless ordeal of bursting water pipes and dangling power lines. But winter brings something else, too, along with copious snow and stuck cars and frozen fingers: silence. This occurred to me as I drove across the snow-coated miles of northern Ohio and Indiana. As I rolled past those wide-open farm fields, the ones tucked under their simple quilts of snow, I realized how quiet the world is when it is encased that way, how graceful. Everything slows down. We're forced to be more patient and deliberative. We can't just race around in our usual frenzy, changing lanes with a quick jerk of the steering wheel or peeling out when the light turns green, because the snow and the ice won't allow it. And that, in turn, means the world grows quieter. For the rest of the year, silence is hard to come by. Typically, our world lives at the top of its lungs. It's loud, and it's rude, and it's brassy, and it won't rest until everybody joins the party. TV sets yammer at airport departure gates, in doctors' waiting rooms, even at gas pumps. The racket is outrageous: car horns, car alarms, leaf blowers, lawn mowers, radios, yelled conversations, cell phone ring tones. It's a cacophonous carnival, this country of ours, a riot of sound and a jumble of jarring aural interruptions. And it's more than merely annoying. The American Academy of

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