Sound, Silence and Safety

Under the trees, in the bedrock of the valley, I feel surrounded by an entity primeval and powerful. And the wind roars. 

I have discovered that it is possible for a February night to be both warm and cold.  There was a duality to this night.  This was my thought as I stepped through the door and stood outside in the dark.  Was it the night that was warm and the wind that blew cold?  No, it was the other way around.  The wind was whispering warm: later in the year it might be described as sultry.  It had a siren’s song, a susurration that spoke of secret things and of temptation.  The sound was so soft it fell around me as silence.

And yet there was a sinister feel to this nocturnal mistral and I shivered, but not from cold.

The night itself was thick with darkness and no moon bedecked the darkness.  Had it been above the treeline, it would have been but a slick of waning crescent, a weak and sickly dying thing.  No light would be reflected from the moon this night.  Instead there were stars.

1.sound silence and safety

The sky is not a palpable thing.  The sky is emptiness, coloured by dust and gases and matter too small for me to comprehend.  The sky is also too vast for me to comprehend.  Perhaps this is why I must give it tangible attributes.  Tonight, the sky is a thick, luscious velvet curtain that I want to stroke.  It is draped across the emptiness and spangled with myriad miniscule jewels: pinpricks of sharpness; icy cold portals into the infinite space on the other side.  The curtain is weighty, and in protecting the earth with its sumptuous folds it offers me safety.  I may feel small, I may feel humble, but under this enveloping sky I am not vulnerable to the universe.

There remained the whispering wind.  By the house she whispered.  Step a few short strides down and she sighed and murmured; a few more steps and into the trees and the stars are lost to the mantle of branches; the silkiness of silence forfeit to the snarl and moan of a different beast.  Under the trees, in the bedrock of the valley, I feel surrounded by an entity primeval and powerful and the wind roars.  No whispering womanly wiles here. 2. sound silence and safetyThe house is still so close; its windows lit and shining, reassuringly safe.  But down here, under the trees whose trunks stretch upward in vanishing silhouettes amidst a tangle of branches twisted and ugly, dark against darker: down here I feel afraid.  There is an urgency here, an insistence that I listen to the wildness and remember who I am.  How easily a bough could snap away from its trunk and crash down.  Crash and crush.  I am small, protected from the universe perhaps – but vulnerable to the trees and the whim of the wind.

4 sound silence and safety

The house is still so close.  How can it be, this separation of silence and sound, of security and fear?  Where is the barrier at which I crossed from one to the other? How often have I stood outside the house and marvelled at the silence and soft murmurings of the night?  Never have I guessed that so close, just below, lies a roiling cauldron.  I want to go back to the shelter of those windows where the darkness is safe and the night is familiar.  But somewhere out here is a life much smaller than mine and that is what I am searching for.  I should be calling, shouting loudly into the dark, calling his name.  But I am fearful because I know that my voice would not stretch above the clamour of this squall; I don’t wish to hear it swept away, lost beneath the surging tides.  I don’t wish to be reminded that right now in this place I am a single leaf against the might of nature.

So I whisper.  It seems to me that a whisper is just as likely to be heard as a shout or a cry.  I walk, and I whisper into the hedges and the trees that rise alongside me, along a road that is so familiar and comforting in daylight but now is garbed in a different guise.  Birds fly upwards, torn from their roosts in a cacophony of alarm and protest.  They hear my whisper but he, it seems, does not.  My cries are mere ripples in a restless ocean.

3. sound silence and safetyIn time I accept that there will be no answering cry in response to my muted calls.  And I turn for home, prepared to come out again later if he has not returned and perhaps by then the wind will have had its fill.  He seems so very small to be outside alone in this ferment.  I am convinced he was seduced by that sensuous silence surrounding the house and led on into the tumult under these tangled trees where perhaps he has lost his bearings and become disoriented by the brooding shapes and the incessant sighs and  the sobs, the creaks, the groans and the wailing roars.  He seems so very small.5. sound silence and safetyI don’t need to go out again.  When he returns he is unsettled but not hurt or frightened.  He has been gone for a number of hours but he’s home now, safe and seeking food, warmth and sleep.  And I remind myself that unlike me, a cat is a creature of the night – at home where I am not.9. sound silence and safety







All photos apart from this one are from Unsplash and are free to use.  Grateful thanks to the following photographers for their generosity in sharing.


1st Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash

2nd Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

3rd Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

4th Photo by Jack B on Unsplash

5th Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

6th Photo is Jackson.  With grateful thanks that he came home safe 😉






34 thoughts on “Sound, Silence and Safety”

  1. You, dear friend, have a tremendous way with words. You are hugely immensely talented and I loved reading this post. I wonder if you have one of those tiny thatched cottages nestling into a rock or clustering along a winding path and I see you standing in your garden, looking up into the endless mysterious and wonderful sky, still, thinking…..
    Bless you! I’m so thankful to have ‘found’ you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kiki, you are so kind. (And no, neither of those houses. Ours is large and quite modern and set into the side of a valley. I have never checked whether we are actually in ‘dark sky’ area, but I think we must be. The stars here are simply stunning.

      (I will get back to you about the books too, Kiki; I haven’t forgotten 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we’re quite rural here and the night skies are often stunning, Elizabeth. I find it difficult now, when I’m closer to ‘civilization’ and mourn the loss of the clarity and the stars.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a journey you take us on with your words and the accompanying photos Sandra, alluring with a sense of hyper-alertness to the outer environment, awakening the survival instinct in us all and what a lovely ending, and image. Thank you for sharing your talent with us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Claire, thank you. If only you knew how diffident I feel about sharing! But it’s getting easier, and encouragement such as yours does help 🙂


  3. How incestuous all this is! Virtually all your commenters comment on my blog too. But they’re right. You have a wonderful way with words – such a mood and atmosphere you’ve created. So glad you seem to be back on the blogging scene again. P.S. I love Unsplash too, but so far it hadn’t occurred to me to use their images. Thanks for the hint.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose we all learn of other blogs through comments on blogs we already know, and thus go round and round. It does surprise me often though, how I’ll encounter a familiar name somewhere totally removed from the usual suspects. One tangled spider’s web!

      It’s the first time I’ve used Unsplash on the blog but I knew I had no photos of my own I could use and I like to include images. It’s a wonderful resource, isn’t it! (And I’m glad to be back too 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So glad he came home – it’s so worrying when they disappear off into the night. You are lucky to have all those stars! The light pollution around here is so bad we barely see any. Lovely post – you evoked that mysterious sense of the power of the night superbly… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks FictionFan 🙂 Yes, they can be worrying little creatures, our ‘babies’ 🙂 I was very relieved to have him home again. (Lovely to have you back; hope your blogging break was restorative 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! Your writing here drew me completely in. I’ve often been out at night, for the same reason you were, and felt that unease you describe. The familiar disappears and the world seems less knowable. Like Derrick, I loved the subtle alliteration–all those hissing sounds made the night a little more unsettling. Your handsome boy looks happy to be home, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kerry. ‘The world seems less knowable’ – that’s it exactly 🙂 And yes, he was very contented after his adventure. No doubt there will be more…


  6. What beautiful words…so evocative. You’ve succeeded in putting me into a dark, starry night as I sit here in my warm, sunny living room. Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gosh, that’s quite a leap! Though I’m sure you have such nights where you are. And no doubt your two furry scamps will be out adventuring and causing mayhem of their own!


  7. Fear and dread do make us feel so small and overwhelmed, and you powerfully evoke how alien, wild and dangerous the darkness felt when you were calling for Jackson outside the safety of the house. What a relief that he came home. I hope he will be more circumspect in future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect he will cause us worry again; he’s an adventurous, outdoor type and I don’t feel comfortable restricting him. Our worry is the pay-off for his freedom 🙂 Whether I would respond to the world after dark in the same manner as on this occasion is doubtful. That’s partly why I wanted to capture the experience.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Andrea 🙂 I’m glad you felt the sense of menace. A landscape I am intimately familiar with, yet on that occasion I might have been experiencing it for the first time.

      Liked by 1 person

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