A Different Kind of Quiet…




Dear Reader:

Yesterday morning I woke up to the strangest kind of quiet. My Iphone wasn’t beeping text noises or letting me know emails were arriving and especially…the phone wasn’t ringing…it never rang all morning.

None of the usual walkers or young mothers, with baby strollers, meandered down the street. For almost two hours even a car didn’t drive on Rainbow Road. Something strange was going on?

It was overcast and cool…as I looked out my bedroom window…everything looked the same, yet  different. The only time the strange silence was broken was when the wind picked up and dropped falling leaves, unceremoniously, on the ground. It sounded like rain then…but it wasn’t.

The strange quiet settled into and around the house like a fog rolling in for an indefinite stay…an uninvited guest… at best. I opened my “Notable Quotable” notebook (I keep by my computer) to search for a phrase I had read that would apply to this situation and I finally found it.

One author had written: “It was an unfamiliar quiet…like an incomplete sentence.” 

I began to feel more comfortable immediately…someone else out there in cyber space had once felt the same strangeness I was feeling now. Isn’t that the real reason we love to read…to be able to connect with people experiencing similar thoughts and insights as ourselves?

IMG_8021 (1)As the morning wore on, with no interruptions from the outside, I began to feel a certain sense of peace in the quiet…like a piece of art that grows on you the longer you stare at it or a colorful quilt to immerse yourself within.

I began thinking about the earlier metaphor of an unique type of quiet being similar to an incomplete sentence. Wouldn’t that mean that it is the quiet before a new front or change arrives to end one stage and begin another?

IMG_8023 (1)There was a sense of expectancy in the air…and I have lived long enough now to know that changes can arrive like ghosts at Halloween and catch us unprepared with a big “Boo!” if we aren’t careful.

This anticipatory quiet became more (as Alice in Wonderland would say) “curiouser and curiouser.” (As I was later making my bed and stretching out the sheet wrinkles another quote-I had found in my notebook of quotes by Madeleine L’Engle from a Wrinkle in Time- came to me.)

“Don’t hope it was a dream. I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.” 

So maybe the strange quiet of a mystifying Monday morning is supposed to remain a mystery…at least for awhile. I do sense, however, a change in the air…perhaps it is just a seasonal change…though somehow I think it is more than that….time will tell.

downloadI just finished a story (by my new favorite author Sarah Addison Allen/The Girl Who Chased the Moon) in which a strange daily ritual repeated itself throughout the novel… with no explanation given.

In Allen’s latest novel…A young girl returns to her mother’s home town to live with her grandfather (she never knew existed) following her mother’s death. There appears to be lots of unexplained phenomenon throughout the town, including her grandfather’s strange antics.

Several times a day he opens the dryer, bends way down, and checks to see if anything has been left in it. Then with a sigh, that sounds like a sigh of disappointment, he closes the door and walks away.

The granddaughter finds this strange but is afraid to ask about it since she doesn’t know her grandfather and is scared she might anger or offend him by her questioning.

At the end of the book…when all the mysteries of this little North Carolina town are peeled away, like an onion, this ritual, too, is finally made clear.

When her grandmother had been alive…she would sometimes forget and leave a piece of clothing, unknowingly, in the dryer. She never gave it another thought but it bothered her husband, who had been a long-time bachelor and pretty set in his ways, when they married.

He would always check the dryer after her for left-over clothing. She decided to play a trick on her husband one time and she left a frog in the dryer….when he opened the door the frog came hopping out and it later became a family joke between them.

After the grandmother’s death, the grandfather would  check the dryer every day thinking perhaps that his wife, Lily, would try to send him a message through it. He had loved her so and missed her terribly.

Instead…he opens the dryer one day and a frog comes hopping out again….it stares at the startled grandfather and then hops to the front yard, turning back for one last glance, before disappearing.

That night the grandfather realizes that his wife had put the first frog in the dryer to shake him up from his old bachelor routines and rituals and, instead, begin making changes for their future together. The second frog had arrived to repeat the message with a different twist.

It was time for him to leave the past behind, fix up the crumbling – down house, and finally start a new life for himself and his most precious gift of redemption-his granddaughter.

So until tomorrow…May we accept the winds of change when they blow our way with the gift of anticipatory silence to help us prepare for the next “place” along our odyssey.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

*I saw this u-tube video on the Kelly & Michael morning show and thought it was too cute…baby owl dancing to “Monster Mash”! Enjoy!

Adorable Baby Owl Dances And Sings Along … – YouTube






About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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