We woke this morning to a silent blanket of snow, covering every possible twig and shrub with the lightest form of silence imaginable. Emma, curled up at the end of our bed purred in contentment. Our home was absolutely still and the beauty breath taking. Val, my every-ready bunny, slid out of bed to make coffee and rekindle the wood-burner. I could hear her in our kitchen, each sound magnified in its singular presence. Coffee and wood smoke intermingled, and within minutes I was handed a steaming cup of our morning elixir. Climbing back in, neither of us had spoken a word; to do so would have broken some kind of spell. Before long, three cats and a our dog Bleu were also nourished, as we grew quieter still; letting the silence enfold us. This silence is never felt as a void, but as a sound of something moving deep within us; as it formulates our speech.
Silence is a major part of our winter environment. Neither Val nor I are television watchers, so we spend many hours together in its embrace, often reading. The sounds within our home are notes within our daily rhythms. This silence is valued by both of us as we are replenished and nourished by it. We are fortunate to have many windows that open to the natural world outside. In winter we are safe and cocooned, fundamentally sheltered from the storm. It appears that silence and simplicity are an acquired taste. It seems mankind instinctively complicates life.
We are Facebooked, YouTubed, plugged in and turned on; yet why this need for constant business? Haven’t you ever wanted to notice the wind blow, your heart beat or your lover sigh? How can any of it be heard when the world is so noisy? When I stare at a fire and can hear the sizzle and pop of the wood; it would all be missed if the room was filled with perpetual distraction. I say this to you so you might stop and take the time to hear the sounds of silence. Something you enter into; when all we can do is make noise.
During this time of the year, Val and I are often found in the kitchen making a soup, stew or baked good. One of our favorite’s is a carrot loaf that is beautifully dense, yet not too sweet. We love it with our morning coffee.
- 1 1/2 cups melted butter
- 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 3 tsp. vanilla extract
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. ground allspice
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups, packed finely shredded carrot, soaked in juice of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cups walnut pieces
- Starting with wet ingredients, beat in large mixing bowl, the sugar and butter, adding eggs one at a time. Add remaining ingredients, and beat until light in color.
- Sift dry ingredients twice; then add a third of it to butter mixture, alternating with a third of the shredded carrots. (flour, carrot, flour, carrot, flour, carrot)
- After each mixture gently mix to combine, but do not beat or over-mix, as this will toughen the loaf. Stir in walnuts.
Generously butter 2 loaf pans. Divide batter between the two and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
When done, cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to finish cooling. Serve with butter or cream cheese. (We think cream cheese brings out the flavor of the allspice.) Also consider toasting the slices; it’s delicious!
“Then silence happened;/the silence that is born of water, foaming,/Suddenly it curdles in a looking glass./ So we grow quiet./ We do the same as lakes to see the sky.”