Sunday, May 12, 2013


by Bert Carson

There was a loud explosion in the neighborhood this afternoon.  I didn't hear it.  I was taking a nap and when I take an afternoon nap, I take an afternoon nap.  However, when I finished my sleep, Christina told me about it and from her description, we determined that a nearby transformer had blown.  A while later a couple of Huntsville Utility trucks arrived to restore order, and as it turned out, power, to the street behind our house.

I walked out back, because I'm nosy, and discovered that the north side of the street behind our house was without power.  Tim, our behind-the-house neighbor, was talking across his fence to the four linemen, who were gazing up at the offensive transformer that had ruined their Saturday afternoon.  Though I couldn't hear his words, I could tell by his body language Tim wasn't happy to be in the dark, and he wanted to know when he could expect power to be restored.

I don't know what the linemen told him, but I suspect it was that they had to replace a transformer.  A few minutes later they sped away to find a replacement.  As the last of the sunset faded, they returned and over he course of the next hour, replaced the transformer.  However, the problem was more than they had bargained for, because it's now 1:40 AM and Tim's side of the street is still totally dark.

As a matter of fact, it's not just dark, it's quiet.  I've just come back in the house after sitting on the back porch for a half hour where I noted how quiet things are, not just on Tim's street, but throughout the area.  It's funny how darkness and silence go together - one seems to encourage the other.  As I sat on the back steps reveling in the silence I recalled a passage from Beryl Markham's masterpiece, West With the Night -

"There's an old adage," he said, "translated from the ancient Coptic, that contains all the wisdom of the ages -- "Life is life and fun is fun, but it's all so quiet when the goldfish die."

Our true selves seek silence like a homing pigeon flying hard for its roost.  Yet we've traded silence for convenience and progress.  Sitting on the steps, in the darkness, and engulfed by the  silence, I asked myself, "Was the gain worth the loss?"  And  I answered softly, so as not to disturb the peace of the dark and quiet - "No, I don't believe it was."

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