Winter in McCauley evokes many sights and sounds. Joanne McNeal
I love the crunch of snow under foot, and the way it sparkles when it’s new. And I love the way trees cast a shadow on the snow – it’s magical.
I love the sound of snow shovels on the sidewalks. Even inside the house I can hear the scrape and push, lift and throw of snow-shovels working. Outside, I hear the huffing and puffing of neighbours moving snow. Sometimes they say “hello” or “Happy New Year” as I hurry past.
Sometimes when it’s really cold, the dogs limp and pick up their feet. They get cold as we rush to walk our 10 blocks, so they can return home to warmth and lazing about.
I love the dim light of dawn and dusk, which seems eerily blue. Some lights are on, yet many houses are dark, nestled among the trees and shrubs. I love the bright sun reflecting off snow.
I hear cars start and idle for a while to get warm. Then they go, or stay parked for later leaving.
Sometimes I hear a helicopter circling to land. I wonder who is hurt, who is suffering? The hospital staff must be preparing to welcome them.
Sometimes we hear the fire engines, or police sirens, warning us to move aside so they can rush to emergencies. Other times we see the flashing lights and we know something or someone is being chased. I don’t go outside then.
Inside I hear the furnace come on and off, and I hope it continues all winter. Sometimes the wind whistles across a crack in the window frames.
I hear garage doors open and front doors close, each a unique sound of people going off to work. What would their day be like?
I hear people walking by, talking, a few feet from my kitchen window. Chance words in brief. Sometimes a person is crying, or shouting in anger, or singing. I always say “hello” or “Good morning” even when it’s afternoon.
Sometimes barking dogs call and answer each other, and a chorus starts. I wonder if they are hungry?
Mostly the neighbourhood is quiet, especially in winter, when many people stay inside. In summer neighbours visit and laugh and help each other. But after dark it’s quiet, as neighbours rest or sleep or watch TV.
When it’s hot in summer and I am outside watering, sometimes a homeless person asks for a drink of water, or for me to hose them down. I happily hand them the hose so they can do what they need to do.
When there are games or concerts going on at the stadium I can hear the announcer clearly. Often I stand outside and listen to hear who is winning or what is happening. If our team wins, the crowd leaving the Stadium is loud and joyous, but if we lost they are more quiet or angry.
The dogs and I walk around the block late – a peaceful way to end the day, so we can sleep and dream until morning light.
Dr. Joanne McNeal is a retired art education professor, artist, singer and musician. She has lived in McCauley for almost 12 years.