Monday, August 08, 2005

when the lights go out

In this remote region it doesn't take much to disrupt the electricity. In the winter the storms bring down huge trees, which bring down fragile lines, which break, and cause the electricity to shut down throughout the hills and valleys. When we are at our cabin in the hills this doesn't affect us in the least; we use candlelight there, and carry water from the spring, and heat with bits of dry branches gathered in the early morning. In town, at the shop, everything is electric.
So when the lights went off last night (a car having run into a power pole down towards the coast), and my youngest and I were here, and the store cats and two dogs clustered round, it was a challenge and an adventure. Yes, I lit candles, and found a flashlight. But the heat of day had built up, and my boy, who has Down Syndrome and has some fears and some major lack of fears, wanted to go out into the town. We took the flashlight and went into the streets. The town has a very small population--barely about a thousand, and only one main street, on which our shop and a few others sit, a stretch broken by a big vacant field.
With the lights gone the sky above the town was vast. Everywhere it seemed there were dogs running, and cats I'd never met, darting into the darkness, adventuring. We walked, and sat, and walked, and gazed at the Milky Way. Coming back past the market, which had closed, we found one of the clerks trying to get into his truck. He'd lost his keys. Fortunately, he told us, his truck doesn't need a key to start. If only he could get the little side window open. I stopped and focused the flashlight beam on the little screws he was trying to undo. Success. But then, prying open the window...He wished for a bigger blade; his pocket knife was pretty tiny. So we walked, my son and I, back to the dark bookstore and came back with two nice huge knives (I use them to cut up salads and bread). The smaller one did the trick, and the guy drove off.
Today, when I was buying bread, he greeted me "Hey, it's the lady with the knives!" Heads swiveled. The thoughts could have been written in balloons over their heads "gee, she doesn't look dangerous".
Can't wait till the gossip gets back to me.


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