I’m a complete scaredy cat, so there’s quite an array of nighttime noises that make me sit bolt upright when I’m in bed. Only a few catch my undivided attention in a good way, though. The quiet sounds sneaking through my window right now are of that good variety, the kind that has me rushing outside, or to open the nearest window and turn my ear out into the darkness.
There are several Great Horned Owls calling back and forth in the woods behind the apartments. One is close, perhaps in the treetops just beyond the next building. The others–at least one or two more, but maybe three–are spread far and wide throughout those woods. Their calls are nothing more than a muttering that I have to strain to catch.
I knew the snow had started when I realized it was quiet.
Snow in North Carolina is an unusual thing, both in frequency and because of the general public response to it. East of the mountains, which are another beast entirely, we get a snowfall or two in a typical year, somewhere between January and March. More often than not, they are ephemeral, arriving in secret by night and melting away over the next series of mornings with little fanfare. But these usual non-events trigger an apocalyptic panic.
“Get your bread and milk now,” everyone will say with a wry smile when snow is in the forecast. It’s a tired joke, dry and self-deprecating. Even after you say it to a coworker with a roll of your eyes, you still make a note to drop by the grocery store on the way home.