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Perspective: Silence.

Julian Hochgesang

Somedays when I walk out, I can hear gravel trucks banging as they hit bumps on the main road half a mile away. I follow their progress. Other times the Union Pacific train fills the air like sheets billowing on a clothesline. Other mornings the wind is just right and I can hear robins, redwing blackbirds, my footsteps and breezes over the grass.

These days I practice silence when I walk Little Dog. No longer do I speak my requests or even name my thanks. I listen to the fields and the sky. I feel my feet step on gravel. Little Dog darts to the ditch to sniff a pocket of scent. I smell the air—sometimes fertilizer, sometimes smoke from a neighbor’s hearth, sometimes nothing. I look to the neighbor’s oak tree, her branches bent as though the wind had frozen them. Sometimes clouds are turned like a spatula that has rolled batter. Sometimes the sun lies down in the trees like a cat curling up on a chair.

My mind wanders. Of course it does. But I hear my teacher’s voice, “When that happens, return.” I come back to the sights, smells, sounds, footsteps. The gaping loneliness I have tried to fill with Facebook and friends who are tired of hearing from me has filled with silence like a well, where I can look up and see night sky and stars even on a sunny day. It’s gotten easier to smile and laugh.

I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.

Katie Andraski is an author, blogger, and retired composition teacher at Northern Illinois University