Often after a big meal, my husband and I walk. We find ourselves doing this around the holidays, especially, and on the few winter nights that are considered warm by Wisconsin standards.
We don’t do it nearly as much as we should, of course.
What always strikes me about our walks is how quiet it is, especially this time of year when sound travels differently.
There is something very satisfying about silence after a meal. It’s as though eating is a ritual that requires silence to be properly digested, or appreciated.
Maybe it is.
In the tiny Quercy village we visited in France, we walked one evening. There was a smattering of rain for two days, but on the second it cleared up at suppertime. After our meal, we trekked down to the village to toss our kitchen refuse bag in the poubelle near the church.
Save for a motorbike cutting through the spring evening, the land was silent. Everything seemed to be at rest.
Somehow the quiet accentuated the oldness of the place, the old stone fences and the old stone houses, some with dovecotes, others with towers, all with terra cotta-tiled roofs.
The sun, a bit wan after the rain, infused the buildings and the countryside with a warm glow, like a benediction.
A late April night has a certain smell that accompanies the silence, a fertile, waiting smell. There was a chill, too, for even a balmy night is accompanied by a certain coldness that rises as the sun lowers.
This was the last such night, for the next day, the weather turned, and for the next week or so, France enjoyed temperatures in the 80s.
That place, that moment in time, was a gift, unmatched by the usual touristy things people do when they travel.
There is no better way to know a place than to be there and listen to its silence.