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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Sometimes it's nice to appreciate the sounds of silence.
Sometimes it's nice to appreciate the sounds of silence.

My 7 favorite holiday sounds

The holiday season is all about the senses, but usually it’s talked about in the context of sights, tastes and smells. Colorful lights, pretty snowfalls, tasty food and the scents of holiday spice are the clichés du jour.

People talk less about what the holidays sound like. Here are seven holidays sounds that are music to my ears – and none of them come from Christmas songs:

1. Snowblowers starting: The sweetest sound for me in December is when my snowblower starts for the first time. This weekend, I put in a fresh tank of gas, opened up the choke and pulled the chord three times. It started right up. An early Christmas miracle!

2. Salt trucks rumbling: That’s a very good sign. When I don’t hear salt trucks doing their thing, it means my 10-minute commute will take an hour or my road won’t be plowed. Then things get ugly.

3. Football playing: Try as I might, I find it hard to get into football when the weather is warm. By late December, NFL games really matter. Home field advantage is being determined for some, and whether the playoffs will happen at all is on the line for some teams, like the Packers. And the tundra is better when frozen.

4. Snow falling: You have to listen carefully, but I love that tinny sound when you’re standing quietly, hearing snowflakes land upon each other. Not quite as good as waves lapping to shore, but it’s still pretty magical.

5. Fondue bubbling: It’s fondue season, the greatest season of them all! All hail melted cheese!

6. Fireplaces crackling: I don’t have a fireplace at home, but I do have one at our modest Up North cabin. By far, the best part of visiting it in the winter is lighting up a roaring fire. The sound of wood crackling is one of my favorite, regardless of season.

7. Silence: December can get pretty hectic. We’re surrounded by jingling bells, holiday ads, Christmas music and various forms of merriment. But a frigid Wisconsin night can be eerily – and beautifully – silent. Sometimes, while letting the dog out, I like to stand on the porch (for just a minute) and listen ... to nothing.

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