I take a lot of walks. Increasingly, my ear buds remain at home. It’s nice, sometimes, to let the great outdoors wash over you. A train approaching out of sight. Insects arguing from trees. Birds screaming; children laughing with joy. This isn’t to claim that it’s always possible to feel a part of things, only to concede that surrender to the unpredictable can offer a pleasant diversion from songs and podcasts you’ve revisited countless times. The familiar is an invitation to emotional echoes—and while echoes sometimes comfort, more often, they’re mildly torturous.
This is probably the wrong season to write about “snow is silence (the first snow of winter),” a field-recording clinically proven to psychosomatically lower the temperature in my apartment by 10 to 20 degrees. “snow” offers, well, snow. A lot of snow, merciless snow, snow so insistent and tactile that it could be rain, sleet, or light hail. It’s relentlessly hypnotic, this snow, and eventually you won’t notice it any longer; instead, you’ll notice everything else. A burst of dog barks. The tape operator, perhaps inadvertently, becoming part of her record. Cars motoring by. Passing airplanes overhead, instigating vrooooooooms that rock the sonic field. If you feel trapped, immobile, helpless, it’s okay. It’s a perfectly natural reaction to the experience of a snowstorm erasing the world beyond your doorstep.