One of my favorite settings in the wide world is the Brim Hollow lying silently under a blanket of newly fallen snow. Sometimes when the weather seems most unforgiving, I will make the trek to this place I have known so well.
Alone in a quiet, undisturbed winter wonderland, I find a peace and deep satisfaction that comes to me in no other place. There I feel a oneness with the beauty that only God could create. As I take in all the sights and sounds, the word “pristine” comes to my mind.
There is great medicine is finding oneself completely alone sometimes. It gives you time to clear your head and think – and listen – and hopefully, — hear.
A heavy blanket of snow has a way of muffling noise of any kind. In a strange way, the very silence has a sound of its own. But you have to listen carefully. When you do, you begin to hear that which you would ordinarily miss.
It had been a while since I ventured into the Brim Hollow on a snowy day.
This past week I found myself there again. The old home place flanked by the chicken house and the remains of the old smoke house stood gray and forlorn against the winter’s white as I made my way up the hollow.
I lingered there for a while to drink in a few memories.
As I moved deeper into the white silence, I stopped to take in the beauty surrounding me. The trees were heavy with snow as they stood grey, naked of their leaves in the winter landscape. I thought of the words of Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep…”
As I continued my walk, the sound of the snow crunching under my boots made me smile.
The hollow road took me down into a rock creek-bed called “the narrow place” and on past the yard of what we have always called “the little house.” It is fallen now, unattended for too many winters.
Further up the hollow road, I trudged through deeper snow resting on layers of ice which crackled as it they broke under my Red Wings.
As I reached the head of the Brim Hollow, I observed the log barn and the old feed barn. Their tired old frames are now stooping to the passing of the years. I peered inside their empty stables, unvisited by cattle and sheep and mules for over three-quarters of a century. I tried to envision the days when these old friends were bustling with activity – when each stable was in use – when the crib was filled with corn and the loft piled high with hay.
As I looked outside, I saw the grey forms of rock fences. Like old weathered tentacles they reached out in odd directions through the blanket of snow. I stopped beside the rock wall of an old spring house.
Brushing the snow off a flat rock, I sat down and listened.
On one of the ridges; the wind, stirring through the trees, made a sound much like the roar of a distance waterfall. High on a hill, I heard the unmistakable sound of woodpecker driving his chisel beak into a hardwood. Down the hollow I heard a singular, familiar bird call.
Then, I heard the quiet — the sound of nothing. If you have ever been there you know of what I speak.
I watched my frosty breath rise in front of my face. And I reveled in the joy of my solitude.
The whistle of a deer broke the silence. I slumped down behind the rock wall so I would not be discovered. I watched as six does passed unhurriedly below a ridge in single file. I was pleased with myself because my presence was undiscovered.
As I headed out of the hollow, I heard a deep “hoot-hoot” up to my left. It could have easily been mistaken for a hoot owl. But the hoots were too far apart. I had heard that “voice” before. I think it is the call of a coyote. No matter – I was ready to leave him in his world.
I had found that for which I was seeking — a rested mind and a cleansed spirit.
You can bet the next big snowfall will find me back in the Brim Hollow.
Jack McCall is a motivational humorist, southern storyteller and author. A native Middle Tennessean, he is recognized on the national stage as a “Certified Speaking Professional.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 615-973-8645; Copyright 2020 by Jack McCall.