sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

January 15, 2006

and then god said, “let there be night”
posted by soe 6:03 pm

Last night we were lying around the Burrow, watching the Patriots lose to the Broncos and digesting the huge meal we’d eaten as part of Restaurant Week, when suddenly the lights went out.

And the tv.

And the rest of the neighborhood.

The wind howled ferociously outside, and it was easy to see how whipping tree branches and jostling power lines had gotten carried away in a wintery tango, leaving 20 blocks or so in the vicinity of Kalorama Heights and Dupont Circle in silence.

Amazingly, we actually knew where the flashlight was and that its batteries worked. Our shelf full of candles and oil lamps came in handy. And matches were sitting on the table from the other night when I lit a candle for ambiance. We even found our battery-powered radio and managed to tune in the rest of the Pats game (for all that was worth).

Sirens zoomed past in the night. I hoped no one had gotten hurt in the unexpected darkness. Flashing lights stopped outside our window; a cop had been sent to manage traffic at our intersection.

Eventually, the game ended. We listened to the news, then turned the radio off. We washed and brushed, blew out the candles, and went to bed.

It’s amazing how bright the moon is when there are no streetlights to obstruct your view of its light.

And it’s surprising how accustomed one becomes to the various noises that come with a modern home and with living in a city.

Yes, cars still drove past. And people still chatted as they walked by.

But the hot water heater and the furnace didn’t creak. The computer didn’t buzz. The cd player and iPod emitted no music.

The power came back up in the middle of the night, but we’d remembered to turn all our switches off, so it didn’t bother us at all.

And if it had come back on while we were in the middle of our quiet, at-home adventure, we probably would have turned it all off again anyway.

Because it was lovely.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my modern conveniences. I love having music playing and being able to turn the lights on when I want to read at night.

But for once, it was a magical change of pace to not have those conveniences available and to know that it was good just to sit.

Here’s to more nights when the lights go out — for the city or just here in the Burrow, by happenstance or by choice.

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