Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Silent Season

Every year, when our descendants depart for their homes after Christmas, the silent season begins. It is silent indoors—the house looking like the siege of Carthage, or rather like Carthage after the siege was over—and silent outdoors—the snow here for the duration and bird song just a memory.

For one who loves contrasts, and I do, this is a good time: the hullabaloo of the solstice followed by the silence of the cloister.

But it would be good if this nice quiet time were to elicit something more than just a sigh of satisfaction. Such as and insight, or a resolution, or a revelation of some kind. Such as an idea of who I really am, or what I am meant to do in this life. I would really like that.

“You are,” I imagine that hitherto-unheard-by-me small, quiet voice enunciating clearly, “a true goatherd. Do not let the latest contretemps dissuade you. So what if your shoulder hurts and your does are dry. Persevere on the goat path!”

Or, “You are a writer. Write single-mindedly. All else is a betrayal of your real nature.”

Or, “Stop thinking in terms of professions, but go and sell all you have and give it to the poor, then get thee to a nunnery.” (The small, quiet voice is familiar with a variety of literary sources.)

It's been quiet here all day (tomorrow I'll tackle the laundry) and I've been taking little naps, and interrogating the voice in between. But there is silence inside me as well as everywhere else.

And then I remembered Trollope's modest advice to writers—“nulla dies sine linea,” no day without a line. And I thought that seemed reasonable enough. And safe. And something I would like to do.


  1. ah, but we, your faithful readers, know who you are. you're a storytelling artist goatherd dog trainer and gardener. which is much more than many of us can say. don't ever stop writing. don't ever stop writing to us!

    happy new year

  2. ps but you know, of course, that there is plenty of birdsong out there still. the jays and the sparrows and the geese....

  3. Ah, well, so much for the nunnery then.

    As for the bird song, other than my chickens', I haven't heard any around here lately. Maybe they're waiting for a sunny day?

    Happy new decade to you!

  4. What!!! "nulla dies sine linea" is from Trollope?? It is the motto of the Art Students League
    so naturally I always thought it referred to drawing...fascinating.

  5. Trollope used the quote, but didn't originate it. I did a cursory search and got lost in a maze of Greek and Latin and who knows what else. I too used to think it referred to drawing. I guess we can share....

  6. Mmm. Lovely post this afternoon.

  7. I could use "an insight, or a resolution, or a revelation of some kind" as well. Just sayin'.