In Milton, Massachusetts, the snow is level with the top my 6-foot fence. Ginger, my 9-pound puppy, could easily jump right over into another yard. Whoever thought that would be a worry? She’s like a snow plow, powering through drifts, unstoppable. Not me. The glaciers forming on my driveway defeat me.

I’m trapped in my own Bermuda Triangle - bedroom, kitchen, living room - watching hills of snow rise on the deck, whiting out windows. Part of me says, “Soon all this will be a distant dream” quickly followed by, “Wake me up now!”

Being snowed in for three days makes me appreciate the little things. Like leftovers or not running out of milk. On Sunday, my daughter tried to boost my spirits. “At least ‘Downton Abbey’ is on tonight”

I paused and admitted, “My life has become very, very small.”

Friends call from afar. They listen in disbelief about six foot snow drifts and traffic havoc. They are full of apology, “Gee, I’m sorry to tell you it’s 70 degrees out here.”

The relentless landscape of gray-white-brown-and-black gives me a new view of life. A friend in San Francisco sent me a photo of her wooden fence blown down and damaged in a windstorm. But all I could see was the green, green, green of leaves and bushes squashed beneath.

“Gee, that’s so pretty,” I texted back.

I’ve probably talked more on the phone in the last two weeks than I have for the whole of last year. Maybe this snow ordeal compels people to call, rather than to text or email. They can’t do a thing, especially from California, but there is something so comforting about dear ones exclaiming in my ear, “You’re kidding!” or “What the?!” or “Move back, fool!”

Such words said live and in real time beat out all text abbreviations or emojis. I never gave much thought to the sound of individual voices until cabin fever descended. The way Vivian says, “Grrrrlfriend!” when she’s punctuating a point. Or the way Vickie does a “hee-hee-hee” under her breath when she laughs. Or how Janet goes over options (for survival!) in her measured, lawyer-like way.

I do so much emailing and texting, I’ve forgotten how soothing the human voice can be, how signature its love print.

Years ago, I gave a stress management course in a men’s state prison in Connecticut. On my first day I asked the inmates why they were attending the class. Many answered, “It’s really intense in here” or “I need to learn how to relax” or “living with guys who can be violent is really stressful.”


But one young man said, “That’s easy. To hear the sound of a woman’s voice.”

I chalked his comment up the rarity of women in his world.

But now, after having been snowbound for the better part of three weeks, I realize that the human voice is powerful in whatever way we need to hear it. There is a special comfort to hearing a friend talk, with all the phrasings and inflections built up over years of braving life’s storms together.

Email Suzette Martinez Standring at suzmar@comcast.net. Her new book, “The Art of Opinion Writing,” won a first-place prize in the New England Book Festival. Visit readsuzette.com.