The silence of a winter day

The silence of a winter day

If I had a name to call myself, chosen from some old, obscure novel, it would be “woman who haunts the moors” or “the recluse with a small light in her window.”

Sometimes I don’t leave the house for several days. You’ll find me puttering, writing and sometimes being productive, until I realize I might need to venture out for eggs or milk. Many people go stir crazy if they can’t be out running errands, on the go and doing their thing. Many feel the need to meet for coffee or a girls night out on a regular basis. I don’t think I picked up the “girls night out” gene because I can sit for hours in the same spot and never once feel like I’m missing conversation. I should reiterate here that I love my friends dearly.

But I should have been a monk.

I love gray winter days, the silence of snow and the obscurity it affords you. It’s an all-encompassing capsule that surrounds you, the elements spreading themselves around you into a warm cocoon, your windows frosty with condensation. I love sunshine, but I don’t crave it. I can pass many days wrapped in a blanket, working from my computer, and never miss the sun. After days of rain or snow, the sun comes out and blinds me, my eyes squinting, not quite knowing how to handle the brightness.

Lots of people need others for comfort, a kind word or encouragement to make it through the week. I’ll see lovely friends get together weekly, commenting on how much they needed that time spent together. We all have our coping mechanisms, and I’m sure people think me strange for not needing to be around people all the time. I’ll crack open a book, settle in for a movie or start a soup to boiling in my red Dutch oven and know that it’s all I need.

When I was young, I would sit on the old love seat in Mom’s sewing room and pore over encyclopedias and read voraciously on the steppes of Siberia or the haunting solitude of Antarctica. Eastern Europe and far-flung, remote places called to me, and I recall vivid dreams of wanting to travel there, wild winds sweeping across my face. It always left me frozen in fascination — the snow, the cold and the solitude I could find there, a faint candle burning in the window, a raging snowstorm, and a seat by fire for warmth.

I love a good conversation, facts and warm coffee, the intermingling of thoughts and words. I enjoy spirited sparring over current events that jostle the ire inside me. I can parse together a well-crafted status of dreamy nights out and time spent with family. I’m a good communicator and can hold my own as words flow from my fingertips in thoughts and verbiage. But the solitude of my kitchen table calls to me, even as I sit with friends or am out and about shopping or eating. I know I will come back to it the next day, able to sit with my thoughts and find the stillness inside me.

We all have that place we come back to, our haven, where we go to meet ourselves. I’ll sit at the same table and drink endless hot mugs of liquid with my husband, words lilting back and forth in a timeless rhythm, until we each go our own way and do our own thing. The table and computer reach up to enfold me, as I use it to reach my goals — the window in front of me bearing silent witness to gray skies.

And I feel warm.

Melissa Herrera is a columnist, published author and drinker of too many coffees. You can find her book, “TOÑO LIVES,” at or buy one from her in person (because all authors have boxes of their own novel). For inquiries or to purchase, email her at

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