Saturday, February 16, 2008

Quiet

Before I opened up my laptop and began clicking the keys over the background noise of the hum of the computer and the twitter of all the processes running in the background, it was very quiet here.

Amanda is sprawled in the oversized chair reading her book. Kyle is napping in his room upstairs. Awaking from a little catnap on the loveseat, I whispered to Amanda, "Is your dad sleeping?" She craned her neck to see through the opening into the library, where he had been reading on the sofa. "Yes," she whispered back.

Quiet comes in many forms. This lazy Saturday afternoon, quiet exists because there is also peace. We are fortunate to have no responsibilities or worries that impede our ability to read and rest--the silence broken only by the ticking of the big clock on the wall, the rustle of a page turn, or a deep sigh. The companionable silence that is a result of sharing a room and the same activity--separately but together--is something I treasure.

In the novel I was reading before I set it aside to "just rest my eyes," a different kind of quiet came upon that household:
After B.P. spoke, did the living room grow so quiet that we could have heard a pin drop? Rooms are often that still, and the floor of that particular room was hardwood painted gray. We could have heard a pin drop most days and nights. No, the stillness that overtook the three adults and me, the stillness that fell upon our house was very different from silence. It was not the silence of thought, the quiet of meditation.

It was the stillness of waiting. Of preparation. Of anticipation tinged--no, not tinged, overwhelmed--overwhelmed by gloom.

from Midwives by Chris Bohjalian, p. 153

It is writing such as this that drew me in to Midwives right away and has kept me riveted to the halfway point of the book. The story is somewhat interesting, but not necessarily creative or revolutionary. The characters are comforting in their stereotypical predictability, but the writing balances the present, flashes of the past, and allusions to the future with such evocative writing that I am captivated.

8 comments:

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

It sounds like a wonderful afternoon at your house! I read Midwives several years ago. I remember it being well-written. I hope you have time to snuggle up with your book again today!

Beth@Sportsmomma said...

What a great way to spend the afternoon. Midwives is a great book- I may have to re-read it after seeing your post. The movie is very good as well- Sissy Spacek (sp?) is great!

Barb said...

How is it that I didn't realize this was an Oprah selection. Just the excerpt you posted makes it sound so intriguing, I've added it to my shopping list.

Just today I bought Oprah's newest choice - Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I can't wait to dive into this book.

Such a nice post, Jennifer. You've really captured "quiet" here.

Beck said...

This was a wonderful post - I'd never been interested in reading that book, but NOW I am.

Stephanie's Mommy Brain said...

It's 9 pm here and my gang is in bed. And finally, quiet reigns in my house. I can't wait until they can all read and I can enjoy quiet during daylight hours, too! = )

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Your afternoon sounds divine. I love days like that...we try to make Sundays "quiet" around here.

I'll have to check that book out.

chickadee said...

i read that book years ago. loved it.

Katrina said...

Things are rarely quiet around here these days. I think Camden's love language is actually "talking a lot." :) But I do treasure those moments of being together quietly, when they do happen.

I don't think I've read Midwives... I know I've looked into it, because it sounds so familiar, but don't think I ever actually read it.