Fallen oak leaves outlined in frost in December
Backyard Wonder

Happy New Year and May You Feel of Watermelons and Train Wheels, but not so much the Prison Bars

Fallen oak leaves outlined in frost in December

There’s a time in the crevice between day and night when everything is at the top of an inhale and the silence is palpable. It was in that slice of time I walked the dog around the way and listened to nothing sounds.

From below is the tch-tch of her paws against the cold pavement. Off in the distance is the restless shuffle of oak leaves determined to hang on to brittle branches. As we turn to head home we pass a hedge of lilacs and switchgrass busily whispering to each other. Almost to our backyard and the geese gathered on the pond swirl up a murmur, recognizing us as the woman who says hello and the dog who would very much like to make their acquaintance.

These are the winter sounds of comfort and safety, the latitude and longitude of home. Seasonal adjustments in the pitch and timbre of nature will bring squeals of bats and goslings, muted sighs of soft grass, and the rattle of sea oats. The hook and tumble in birdsong, in wind gusting through aspen and sycamore, in all of nature’s conversation soothes me.

The phrase safe and sound comes to mind. I like the alliterative shush and abruptness of the word safe polished to a silky feel against the word sound.

I looked up the origin of the phrase safe and sound and found several reliable sources agreeing that it was likely coined in the 14th century to mean unharmed, not damaged or injured, in reference to sea vessels coming home from battle.

Ever curious I strolled a few more search avenues and found a delightfully visual guess that it means, at least the sound part:

“…could be that several objects like watermelon, train wheels, prison bars (luckily not much experience of these), if in good shape or not deteriorated, should produce an ‘healthy’ sound when adequately striken [sic].”

So as we reach the trailhead to 2022 I hope you arrive safe and sound; unscathed by your journies this year. I wish you cardinal song and pine hush. May you tread on soft paths, find rest against solid oaks, and discover new comforts in your own backyard.


Writer, Master Gardener, Chaser of Wonder.
Total post: 38

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