Not quiet, but silence, or as I would define it, the absence of unrelated, distracting noise. I can think of only one time where I experienced complete silence. It happened early one morning between the passing of the dusk and the advent of the day.

South Holston Lake sunrise

South Holston Lake sunrise

I had taken my boat out on South Holston Lake and it was still. Still in every sense of the word. There was no wind or even a slight breeze. Consequently the water was as smooth as a mirror and the reflections of the shoreline, forest and mountains in the background were unwarped by water ripples.

The boat rode smoothly, almost like being on one of those mag-lev trains that float above the tracks. Even full-throttle, there was no disturbance on the hull. Because of the speed at which I was able to muster the boat motor, I arrived at my destination in record time.

Smooth water and the fact that I was the only one out that time of morning. No other boats, just me. I did spot a couple of hearty fishermen nestled in a couple of coves, but they, doubtless, had arrived at their destination the previous night and were enjoying their sport by the light of the moon.

My destination, like theirs, was a secluded cove on the southeast side of the lake. This deep cove was situated so far from normal boat traffic that you just about needed to have this spot on your radar from the beginning. You definitely needed to want to come here.

I arrived and to my relief, I noted that I was the only one there. I cut the throttle and coasted into the cove, finally shutting the engine off completely. I drifted quietly into the depths of the cove and after a few minutes the ripples left by my wake disapated and no longer splashed against the shoreline.

That’s when I noticed it. Silence. Complete and utter silence. I don’t think in all of my 35-odd years I had ever been enveloped in such a complete lack of sound. There is always some noise that serves as a backdrop to living. Whether it is passing traffic, the roar of of an airplane passing overhead or just the general hubbub of the living world, there was always something.

But not this morning. Not a cricket, not a bird, not even the sound of a gentle breeze disturbing the leaves. There wasn’t even a fish jumping to make the sound of a splash. I just sat, quite engulfed in the silence and marveled at the lack of ruckus for a good long time. At least it seemed like a good long time. In reality it was only for a few minutes, but it was a few minutes of wonder.

I knew that the world around me would awaken soon, heralded with the cries of birds establishing their territory and searching for food. Insects would follow, rising from their slumber and start their buzzing and flying about in their never-ending effort to survive. Some would invariably end up floating on the surface of the lake and more often that not, end up being breakfast for a fish.

After a while all of that came to pass. The world woke up and carried on with it’s daily routine. The background hum and buzz increased in volume and soon the sun ascended Holston mountain. The commotion of life rose along with ol’ Sol and I understood that, along with everything else, my life must continue as well.

The warmth of the sun was causing a breeze to stir so the waves appeared, requiring that I return home slower than when I arrived. At least that was the excuse. I suspect it was more the silent beauty of the cove and the overwhelming sense of peace I had experienced that slowed my progress.

I did return home and continued about my day’s business a little more peaceful than usual.

© 2017, Bruce Denton. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Silence

  1. tdd says:

    Beautiful photograph and words!

  2. Unmuddle says:

    Such a beautiful photo! Your writing makes me feel like I’m right there with you, mesmerized by the stillness and gradual stirring of life. I am in great debt to John Baillie’s “A Diary of Private Prayer” which includes the following:

    “Creator Spirit, who broodest everlastingly over the lands and waters of the earth, enduing them with forms and colors which no human skill can copy, give me today, I beseech Thee, the mind and heart to rejoice in Thy creation. Forbid that I should walk through Thy beautiful world with unseeing eyes: Forbid that the lure of the market-place should ever entirely steal my heart away from the love of the open acres and the green trees: Forbid that under the low roof of workshop or office or study I should ever forget Thy great overarching sky: Forbid that when all Thy creatures are greeting the morning with songs and shouts of joy, I alone should wear a dull and sullen face: Let the energy and vigor which in Thy wisdom Thou has infused into every living thing stir today within my being, that I may not be among Thy creatures as a sluggard and a drone: And above all give me grace to use these beauties of earth without me and this eager stirring of life within me as a means whereby my soul may rise from creature to Creator, and from nature to nature’s God.”

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