Driving home to North Dakota.

Driving to North Dakota again.    We have it timed so I get up to see my mother at least once every 2 to 3 months.   Time away takes a new meaning when Mom passed the 97 year mark.

Every time I am in North Dakota something stands out, good or bad.   This time it was the weather.    In Minneapolis, people talk about having hard winters.   Really.   They do.   I always feel that I have missed the winter if I do not spend time in North Dakota.    There is something different about the air when it is below zero.   There is a snap to everything.

I love being on the farm and walking from one house to the other on the homestead.   The snow squeaks.   There is a silence.    Yet every sound is clear.

I taught the kids in my classroom to listen to the silence.    I told them that we are surrounded by noise.   Some people turn on the TV, the radio, or plug themselves into their ipods as soon as they are alone.    In our school, the students are allowed to listen to music while they study to help them block out other distractions.    The downside of this is that we often do not hear or even recognize our inner voice.

Some of my student loved the quiet time.    It is called ‘Silent and Still’.    No one moves even a foot or their hands during the 60 seconds.    Children breathe as quietly as they can.  And we listen.    

Students then wrote about their experience.    It wasn’t just to be quiet, they were supposed to really listen to themselves.

What resulted was like poetry for some.

I had one student literally fall off her chair when we finished. OK she does have a flair for the dramatic, but she stated that this was one of the hardest things she has had to do:   To listen to herself and the quiet.

All of this is what I grew up with on the farm    The ability to listen to silence and little sounds.    It is one of the things that I value from being brought up on the farm.   The ability to listen to the world and to l