Stop and Listen
Sometimes the woods at night are so still the sound of your own breath abashes you, to say nothing of the racket as you walk. Sometimes talking helps, saying a poem, or even, if you’re going downhill, singing. Other times there’s nothing to do but stop and listen, or even sit and close your eyes in the name of attentiveness. In daylight, there are birds, and for some reason the wind too is always awake, delivering weather or dust. At night, you concentrate and your listening is enhanced, and sooner or later you will hear a scale of bark let loose from a tree or a needle tick from limb to limb on its enormous journey to the earth. And sometimes, having resumed your walk, you will stop at the top of the ridge above your house. Its window lights will illumine the ground around it, and you will listen again and hear the faint hum of it— the buzz of its light bulbs, the industry of its clocks. And sometimes you will approach it as would a thief and peer through the windows, in order that you might covet, being part of the world’s greater silence, everything that is already yours.