“What kinds of silence do you remember?” the boy asked.
“What do you mean silence?” the old man said. “There is always sound.”
“But there must have been places that were quieter than others–places that seemed as if there was no noise”
“The river was quiet where I lived,” the old man said. “It strayed noiselessly through fields and pastures. There was one shallow place in the river where the water’s elevation dropped a few feet as it crossed exposed rocks, and you could hear the sound from those rapids a mile up and down the river; but even those places were silenced when the snow melted in the hills and the Spring rains came. For a few days the river banks weren’t high enough to hold the water in, and it came out over the land, crossing the road and coming out from beneath the bridge. There was no traffic then or business anywhere, and I could stand on the edge of the flooded land and watch the river as it searched through places it normally couldn’t reach.”
“The water must have been capable of washing things away,” the boy said.
“It was, but soundlessly, with great effect, like the sun crossing the sky.”