Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lost in the stillness

The thin white blanket covers the ground. The birds chirp not; the squirrels make not a sound. All is quiet this morning.

I pretend to hate snow, but I really love it. Especially the kind that fell here overnight. It makes for a beautiful sight this morning, but melts quickly enough to avoid any problems.

I've always loved the stillness the snow brings. Walk outside whenever Ol' Man Winter has left his calling card. Unless some moronic motorist is trying out the four wheel drive, you won't hear much of anything.

For some reason, that stillness always makes me think of the Civil War. Sounds crazy, I know, but I can explain it.

Back in the eighth grade, Halls Middle School principal Paul Williams took us on a field trip to Gettysburg. This was in mid-March. And guess what? It snowed.

There we stood on the most hallowed ground in the Union, treated to the ethereal sight of those rolling Pennsylvania plains covered in white. It was ghostly and would have been downright haunting were it not for the idiots throwing snowballs at one another while Williams spoke of Rebels and Yankees.

I thought about that stillness this morning as I sat here sipping Coca-Cola. I also thought about Bruce Catton's book, "A Stillness At Appomattox." It won a Pulitzer back in the '60s.

The romantic in me has always hoped the stillness was there that day in Virginia when Lee handed his sword to Grant. Given that it was April, the birds were no doubt singing and the earth was very much alive.

But on those rare days when snow falls in East Tennessee, I think about the men in blue and gray, while I'm lost in the stillness.

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