There were eight to ten inches on the ground and nothing in or on the trees when I leaned out the window sometime between one and two yesterday. I've taken just this shot a hundred times or more in the eleven plus years out this same bedroom window, tilted up at the sky for the quick early peach of dawn, the deep, thundering blues of midday, and the lingering violets of dusk wading into the periodic phosphorescent lakes of night. I haven't anything so uniformly black and white. Even the greens out the front and back windows were monochromatic, the color having slipped from branches which should have been heavy with snow but were bare. It's all blown away.
The heat was cranked because we expected to lose power. We still expected ice. We expected eighteen to twenty-four and it was too early to believe it was over although the only thing blowing around out there was picked up off the ground like a dust storm in the chicken yard. I don't know where the added debris came from. Shouldn't it have just been spun, white powder, illicit or otherwise?
Later we sat on the couch in the true dark of night and the winds picked up again. I said to the nervous Elizabeth, pretend we have already lost power and we have a full house generator and plenty of gas and it is cold and dark outside and we are warm with the light and SO much heat inside and do you notice the television is on and we are watching something stupid in the background while I knit your lace scarf because there is enough light and you watch something else on your computer and laugh because that's what you do.
That's all well and good, Mom, right up until the lights go out for real. How do you explain THAT?
We ran out of gas.
I thought you said we had plenty.
We did. We used it all up by turning on every light in the house and keeping the heat up too high and running the dishwasher and doing a load of laundry and...
Well that's stupid.
Yup. Sure is but it's too late now; we're out of gas. Go get some wood for the fire. It's in the garage. Back left corner. I'll have a fire started and Portnoy's candles lit by the time you get back with the first armload (maybe).
Mom. I don't carry wood from the garage in the dark.
Spiders, possum, and wolves.
OK, maybe not wolves but definitely spiders and possum.
Elizabeth we have established that possum are not only harmless but also beneficial and you know how I feel about spiders.
I know. You believe we should invite them in for tea and hope they stay.
Yes. And there are NO. WOLVES.
But there are POS-SUMS.
Last I checked we haven't had a POS-SUM since Portnoy relocated it to the storm drain at the end of the circle and since there aren't any chickens with which to lure it back I'm quite sure it stopped at the neighbor across from the storm drain and stayed. And do you know why it stayed? BECAUSE THEY OFFERED IT TEA!
They probably serve tea to their marsh spiders too.
They don't have marsh spiders. They'd need a marsh to have marsh spiders and they drained that swamp when they put the swimming pool in. No spiders. Just a possum named Fred.
Now he has a name.
He always had a name. You just never asked. You were too busy libeling his good name. Now get down there and bring me some wood.
We haven't lost power.
I know. Isn't that wonderful? You could get wood while there's still enough light by which to see all the scuttling arachnids...
Later Elizabeth went to her room to make a call or to take multiple calls, one from her phone and what sounded like a FaceTime event from her computer and the wellspring of Elizabeth's laughter rolling down the hall, a mixed bag of stampeding horses chased by one or two house cats alternatively known as Mountain Lion One and Mountain Lion Two (depending on who's version of the truth you're working with).
I sat the knitting in my lap and looked at the window which reflected the television and the light in the room. I made it dark. My eyes failed to adjust or someone took a can of black paint to my window. I got up and pressed my face against the glass. Nothing. Not even the hope of trees. It took the faith of eleven and a half years to believe Portnoy's decorative something or other was still planted twenty feet and one pane of glass in front of me and another twenty beyond that and to either sides, well, house killers all around assuming they ever actually fell over in the wrong direction and no such thing as sky.
The night before we had a full moon hanging over the reservoir ready to drop right in, displacing enough water to reveal the village that once was and I've always wanted to know how much village is left down there or did they cart it all away right down to the stone walls; no, they could not have gone that far because who moves rocks? I have this idea that when the full moon drops into the reservoir if we stand at the tree line maybe for a second or two we'll see it all before everything washes back again.
I put the knitting back in my lap but don't pick it up and I leave the room dark. I still hear Elizabeth and I will hear her well into the early morning hours as I come in and out of sleep as she comes close to pulling an all nighter with her friends because school was cancelled well in advance for cleanup alone and I wonder if this is how they whistle in the dark. I hold the knitting in my hands and stare at the window, willing the light to work it's way through cloud cover so dense there is absolutely nothing. I know if I open the door and go out there it will be muffled, the sound wrong and misunderstood, no sign of that moon or pinpricks of light or the phosphorescent lakes which spill across the sky when the night is laid bare.