Backfilling Silence


It’s snowing outside, fat wet flakes twirling in the wind, soaking the surfaces where they land. The flakes land everywhere. I am listening to The Cuban All Star Band and thinking about a kind woman that I had recently met in Havana. Another person present in the room had just asked the question all traveling Alaskans expect: Do you get a lot of snow up there? She had smiled at the mention of snow. “I saw snow just once, on a trip to Madrid,” she said and then smiled like the memory was one of her favorites. She had made snow angels.


When the snow is dry and gathered in deep drifts, Aki makes her own version of a snow angel. But this morning, during our walk on outer point beach, what snow that survived last night’s flood tide couldn’t even hide the whorls of driftwood that lie among the severed rockweed above the high tide line.


Aki can’t appreciate the swirling white beauty of snow carried on the wind. She doesn’t acknowledge the silence delivered by the storm. Thanks to the low cloud layer and lower visibility no airplane or boat can break the silence. Only the two resident eagles complain, and then only for a few seconds. My traitorous mind backfills the vacuum with memory of a song sung by a Cuban peanut vendor’s that had silenced a crowd of Canadian tourists on Brazil Street. A Spanish speaker would have recognized an artfully delivered sales pitch for the peanuts that filled the paper cones she clutched in one hand. In my ignorance, I heard a lover’s song of longing.


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