Friday, April 6, 2012

...Laid on the Ice on a Cold Winter's Night?

It may not sound very inviting but I remember those nights fondly.  I lived out in the “Middle of Nowhere, USA”.  Raised on a farm, miles away from a city or town or even the next farm, the nights were deathly quiet. To give you an idea how quiet it can be there, there is a highway about 2 ½ miles from the farm and over the rolling hills and across the grassy plains, on some evenings, we can hear cars drive by.  No they are not blaring their horns or big loud trucks, it’s the humming from when the rubber meets the road we can hear on some very still nights. 

 Our farm was located on top of a hill so to speak and it overlooked much of the land surrounding it.  Behind the farm, no more than 400 feet from the house, the hill drops off as a small creek has carved out the land underneath it.  It is probably around a 50 foot drop of dirt and weeds that is nearly straight down in some places from the overlook down to the bottom by the water.    Of course in the winter the creek freezes over and it becomes the perfect place to go and look up at the universe and reflect on the things going on in your life.  To some it may sound crazy given your laying on a cold sheet of ice, but when you are bundled up nice and warm and the banks of the creek shield you from any wind, it is really rather comfortable, quiet, and peaceful. 

I remember as a kid, on those nights that were especially clear out, I’d carefully walk down the steep bank, being careful not to fall as the snow gave way under my feet. Sometimes I would sit right down in the snow and slide down the hill.  In the middle of winter, I knew the creek was frozen solid so I didn’t have to worry about checking the thickness so I would just step right on the ice and the ice and snow would crunch under my snow boots. I remember looking around and maybe slide back and forth on the ice a few times as kids like to do.  Trying different tricks and twists an kicking ice chunks around like a hockey puck.  After a bit of play time, I would lay right down on the ice and look up to the large sky above.  Better than any television as it was much clearer and much bigger picture.  With very little light to filter the sky, the amount of stars you can see is amazing! My eyes would scan across the vast universe as far as I could see it. Contemplating the millions of stars it must take to make up the Milky Way Galaxy alone.  Some stars would twinkle more than others and occasionally you would see a satellite quietly drift across or if you were very lucky, a meteor.  God I miss seeing those stars on a clear winters night.  I am not sure why, but the sky seemed cleaner and clearer in the winter.  Maybe it has something to do with the lack of moisture in the air in the winter.  But all I know is it was amazing and a sight that remains vivid in my memory. 

Also vivid were the sounds.  On windy days you could hear strange sounds the wind would make as it would dance across the prairie or get pushed around certain obstacles up above on the farm.  What little grass that was peeking out of the snow would rustle and sway.  The wind is never fun to have around, unless you are lying flat on the ice and most of the wind skips right over you across the banks above.  The still nights were particularly special.  You could hear a dog bark from miles away.  A few nights you could hear a band of coyotes off in the distance and it made your mind race, wondering what they were doing or just how far away they might be.  The farm gave sounds of the cattle and horses grazing, running, or playing. 

These were good nights I look back on and I wish I would have known how special they were.  It was a good place to go and reflect on your day or even your life, particularly if you had a bad day it was a good place to unwind and recharge.  It was just you and no one else to spoil your thoughts or dreams.  I wish those of you reading this could have had that experience.  I would share it with you as I think it would do wonders for anyone looking for a little quiet time and time to reflect.