A Winter Sound
Posted by verywellthen on February 25, 2009
Below is an excerpt of an email I wrote at least a dozen years ago, in the early days of the internets. I stashed old mail messages on a floppy disk. I was going through a few disks before throwing out the disks and before giving away the last computer that I’ll ever have with a floppy disk drive. I found (and slightly edited) this excerpt to a friend who stayed behind in the old country — the Land Next To The Land of Sky Blue Waters — while I headed west, young man.
When you’re an old lady and if I’m living in an “easy” climate, send me a letter (or an email or whatever medium exists in those future days) every winter reminding me how harsh your winter is.
You know what distinctive North Dakota sound I miss? A week into one of those fuckin’ freezin’ cold spells the top layer of snow forms an inch thick layer the consistency of dry-wall, with dry, crystallized loose snow beneath.
Walking over that snow late at night when everything else is quiet is a sound that still echoes deep in some crevasse of my brain, even all these years I’ve been away. The breaking of the top layer is a percussive scrunch, followed by a feather-silent poof on the powder beneath. It’s a sound deadened by the plasterboard snow all around. And between each step, except for the wisps of steamy breath and snorts of wet sniffles, there is not another sound in the world and your brain has nothing to do but echo those big scrunchy sounds around in your head until the next step comes along.
I’ve walked through a lot of Western snow since then but never heard a sound quite like it. Maybe you, as an old lady, could record that sound for me and send it, at attachment to your email. I’ll hit the play button on my computer and a sound from my speakers will call a sound from the netherworld of my brain and the two will harmonize, like long separated friends reunited. Then I will know that the internet has lived up to its promise.