There is this moment when it snows, it’s difficult to explain, but bear with me. When it snows a significant amount of the world just… sounds different.
I’m sure there is some pseudoscientific explanation for why this happens, but I tend to ignore those when it comes to this one phenomenon.
It’s just one of the most perfect and wonderful things that I love about the world. While it’s snowing, or even in the hour or so after a snowfall, I can stand outside my door in the middle of a small city and the world can just feel quiet. I don’t exactly live in the middle of a bustling metropolis, but downtown Nashua is a pretty busy place.
I know that the world doesn’t actually become quiet at all, it’s almost the opposite. Plows are moving snow and clearing the roads, snow blowers are running all over the place, cars are still driving everywhere, people are in a frenzy to shovel and clean up after whatever storm has hit.
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The difference is those sounds are muffled and are like white noise against the backdrop of the snowfall. They sound as if they are a million miles away, nothing to even be concerned with.
It’s a calming sensation like no other: the cold air, the fresh blanket of snow and the calming silence all come together to create this feeling that’s never been replicated for me before, until recently anyway.
The point of discussing that phenomenon with the snow and the silence was to make a connection to this strange thing that’s been happening.
I’ve been spending a lot of my time off campus lately, for various reasons but mostly because many of my friends live far off campus.
There have been a few late nights (or early mornings) where I find myself walking back to campus after a night with a friend.
Of course now that it’s in the middle of fall and quickly closing in on winter, it’s always freezing cold and my sweatshirt never really feels adequate.
I always dread these walks back to campus, right up until I actually enter the cold air and start walking.
There is a certain connection between these walks home and that silence after a snowstorm. Keene is less than half the size of Nashua, but sometimes it can feel just as busy.
Both campus and downtown seem to always be buzzing with students and residents, going about their daily business.
Even late at night there are swarms of people in various places moving around and making themselves known. It’s safe to say, especially during weekends, it’s nearly impossible to find solace and solitude in Keene.
It may take until very early the next morning, but there is a time when Keene is as calm and as quiet as the world is when it snows. I relish these late night walks back to campus by myself because it so closely duplicates that feeling.
The streets in Keene are empty, not a headlight or a student to be seen. The traffic lights switch from red to green and back all on their own with no cars to trip the lights.
The city streets are empty, too, not a single car or resident walking around.
It’s like something out of a ghost town; only leaves are blowing down the streets, scraping along the pavement. All the stores, usually brightly lit and filled with customers, sit empty, their windows dark.
Bars and restaurants have all their chairs up on tables, cleaned and ready for the next morning. The only sound that can be heard is the TV playing Charlie Chaplin videos in the window of the pawn shop.
Even Cumby’s, despite it being open 24-hours, seems absolutely dead at this hour, devoid of customers and seemingly staff members.
The further you venture from the commercial sector of Main St., the more eerie the calm and silence become. Everything seems darker than it is normally, a little creepier and a little more off-putting.
The only life that can be found on campus at that hour seems to be a skunk who has taken up residence outside of Tisdale. Twice now I’ve seen one hanging around outside of Tisdale, scaring me. Even with the skunk, these walks home are something I’ve come to love about Keene.
I love being able to compare Main St. at 5 p.m. when traffic and business is at its peak to Main St. at 3:30 a.m., when it’s absolutely empty and silent. It’s the first and only time I’ve ever seen anything that compares to that feeling after snow, and I love that I live in a place where I can enjoy it all year round.
Chelsea Mellin can be contacted at