The Sound of Silence


"Hello darkness, my old friend," sang Paul Simon, "I've come to talk to you again." At the end of June, Spouse and I sat enjoying some late-night sixties music, compliments of Googie. The tune combined with Raspberry Screech and Fifty Shades of Bay seemed appropriate as we contemplated specks of frost forming on our windows and the tiny snowflakes falling silently on the dormant seeds in our garden.

"After spending so many years in those pine-clad hills," I said to spouse, "and after generous growth of grey hair, I should well have learned by now that there is no orderly progression from season to season. Winter is god-awful. Summer is an afterthought. Fall is a false spring. And spring is a false promise.

"Be quiet," she said, " and let's enjoy the spectacle of the white blanket which is beginning to cover the earth."

Spouse can be poetic at times.

And that's what we've had to put up with for these past five months.

As you well know, April came bearing blizzards from the previous January. Then, to add to the misery of the great unwashed, Dear leader decided to launch a spring election, convinced that May month with its pregnant promise of trade-winds and tropical temperatures was an excellent time to reap the adulation of the adoring masses.

Weather and politics are both unpredictable in this frozen land.

To encourage Dear Leader in his quest, wise men from Ottawa came to town bearing tremendous gifts of filthy lucre and tidings of great joy, all in a supreme effort to dispel any misgivings the populace might harbor that our premier might not be the next messiah.

Despite the sunny Liberal polls, there were signs early on that all was not well in this smiling land. The Muskrat Falls Inquiry had revealed a rat's lair of senior politicians in cahoots with private sector snake-oil salespeople at Nalcor who had driven us individually and collectively into a debt burden which would put Quick-Cash to shame. Their clandestine rendezvous' at The Guv'nor Inn Pub on Elizabeth Avenue will be the stuff of legends.

In the year 2085, when our children and their children have paid down the twenty-billion dollar Muskrat Falls debt (including interest), they will look back in wonder at the long seasons of silence that greeted the government decisions which led to our undoing.

Despite the scandals of the past four years, the excesses of Big Eddie, the naughty behavior of Dr. Dale, the imposition of an unbearable tax burden, Dear leader would have us believe that his sheeple have different wool.

Any political novice would have picked up the signs that all was not well in the political hinterland. Even the promise of big projects like new hospitals, sewers, and prisons, did not alleviate the unease. The great unwashed remembered how they were stiffed by this very government just four short years before. They stayed silent while biding their time.

That time came on a cold day in May. On the sixteenth of that month, some 200,000 voters gave their verdict. A pox on all your houses, they said. Some 93,000 gave Dear Leader a second chance. One hundred seven thousand voted otherwise.

Minority government.

The second one since 1949. The Deer Lake darling was dumbstruck.

Shock-waves lashed our strand.

A vast political silence then descended upon our wind-swept land. Thank God, we all thought. Finally, we will have a peaceful summer without a politician jumping out from behind every bush.

Little did we expect that the malice of the weather gods would ruin a good thing. A month later, June sixteenth came with leaden skies, icebergs from Greenland, killing frosts, and birds from Eurasia that had lost their way in the fog.

Another month after that, on July fifteenth, the cloud cover had descended to eye level. People had forgotten about the mysterious heavenly heat source called the sun. Baby robins whose mothers could not navigate through the murky gloom fell starving from their nests--Smoky the cat's fantasy became feline reality.

Ten days later, though, on the night of July twenty-fifth at 2.37 am, a miracle happened. Spouse and I were peacefully snoozing under the soothing influence of the chilly northeast wind gently wafting through the open window. I awakened with a start. Absolute quiet reigned in the black night.

"Wake up," I hissed in spouse's ear. "I think aliens have abducted us and this very minute we are hurtling silently through the Milky Way."

"Get a grip," she said and went back to sleep.

Then at 2.38 am, the slightest whisper of warmth kissed my cheek. Even though there was no wind, the leaves of the red maple on the lawn rustled and the aspen in front of the window shivered in ecstasy. I could hear the earthworms burrowing in the garden. And even though it was pitch dark outside, robins burst into song in the treetops. A roosting raven fell from its perch with a raucous curse. Seagulls called to each other across the harbour.


Silence, still, from the Confederation Building.



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