I woke up this morning to the sound of the snow plow traveling through our neighborhood. A definitive sound of both the diesel engine and the scrape of the plow blade over the macadam. It was too early to get up but I was a bit wakeful so my mind wandered off into thoughts of winter sounds. Here I was in my cozy nest of covers where I began to think of my winter childhoods on the farm.
The vivid winter sounds I especially remember from my childhood 75 or so years ago arise from sleeping in an unheated bedroom. Our farmhouse was uninsulated with no storm windows. The only heat was a kitchen stove and and pot-bellied stove in the living room. Needless to say, overnight the temperatures in my bedroom mostly matched the outdoor temperature. On those bitterly cold winter nights I would lie in bed with as many covers as possible, listening the sounds of a storm beating against the clapboards. The wind would moan and howl! Loose windows and clapboards would rattle. I can feel the cold, loneliness and despair even now as I think of the challenge of surviving those discomforts. Eventually I wold drift off into sleep shutting out the storm sounds. Then there was the wake up call for my winter morning. My mother didn't have to shout up the stairs for me to get up! However, there was a signal that alerted me to rise. It was the clank of the metal lids on the wood stove in the kitchen. When I heard several clanks, I knew my mother had started the fire in the stove. Soon the kitchen would be warm! After an appropriate interval of time, I would grab my clothes and dash down the stairs to start the day.
Beyond my childhood memories I've continued thinking of contemporary winter noises. There are the noises of both my and my neighbor's snowblowers. There is the noise of the scraping shovel as another neighbor clears a sidewalk. And now I can rest in my cozy house and still be in comfort as the wind of the latest snow storm beats on us. (Just now as I write this blog, our plow people are making another noisy run).
Now my thoughts turn to the sounds of the ski slopes. For Eastern skiers, there is the annoying sound of the snowmakers for many days of the season. Depending on the type of snow maker there are variety of raucous roars to gentle swishes. I surely like the gentle swishes! The din of some snowmakers can be overwhelming. When the snowmakers are shut down there can be blissful near silence on the slopes, especially when we have had a powder snowfall. Other times we deal with the scrape, scrape, scrape over the hard pack or ice. Of course each lift has it's characteristic running machinery sound. On the ride up the mountain the pulleys and cable have both squeaks and hums. I could go on, but here is the challenge. Try listening for uniques sounds of winter. It entertains me!