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It is a winter world of quiet as I look out my window at snow-covered buildings and snow piled high in my driveway. I sit at my kitchen table, only hearing the occasional snapping and cracking of the wood in the stove, and the subtle sound of steam trickling from the ever-present teakettle. Otherwise, there is no sound. I am surrounded by quiet.

Winter is a quiet season. I published a book a few years ago with that title. Winter is a time for slowing down and reflecting, a time for enjoying the beauty of a landscape that is mostly black and white, with evergreen trees providing a stunning contrast. Winter is time to go outside and be surrounded by quiet as you snowshoe or ski or hike on a winter trail. Or merely stand and listen for the sound of quiet.

As I listen for the quiet today, I remember the subtle sound my six-buckle boots made on the snow as I hurried to the barn for the morning milking on below zero days so many years ago. I remember when the morning chores were done, slipping on my skis and skiing the near mile to my country school. The skis making a subtle sliding sound.

When I was a bit younger, I did a fair amount of snowshoeing. I remember the crunch, crunch of snowshoes on crusty snow. The stopping and listening and mostly hearing nothing, except the quiet.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Listen for the quiet; you might be surprised what you hear.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com 

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