Last night, the internet goes out, and BAH is running around trying to fix his vast robot empire, when we hear this crying. Little Z is sobbing, weeping in a way that one only weeps, in real life, when someone you love has died, but she appears to be asleep. If you talk to her, she doesn't respond to you directly. She is responding to someone else, something unseen.
She has had these night terrors since she was a baby. They happen rarely, but when they happen, it's hard to know what to do. Should we wake her up? Wouldn't that make her remember the dream better, and make it, in fact, more real? Both BAH and I go in and talk to her, separately. We both agree that she is asleep. Her sobs shake the house. Finally, he goes to the basement, and I go up and talk to her, and slowly, she seems to be talking back to me, in real time.
"Can you tell me why you are crying?"
"It's too complicated to explain!" she wails at me.
Ah, I think. She's awake, now.
"What are you afraid of?"
"I'm not afraid! I'm frustrated!"
"What is frustrating you?"
"I can't explain it!" and she sobs some more. But, we're making progress. In twenty minutes or so, I have her calm and sleeping in the guest room.
This is what we do, when we have nightmares: we go to sleep in the guest room. Nightmares don't visit us in the guest room. I don't know why, but that seems to work.
So, child appeased, I go to bed. So does BAH.
I don't know how long I have slept when I am suddenly awoken by silence. No humidifier. No refrigerator. No heater. Just silence. I look for the time, and the clock is not lit.
The power is out.
BAH takes a mini flashlight and finds us a battery powered alarm clock, sets it, and we try to sleep. Lots of thing start going through my mind. Really worrisome things.
Worrisome thing number one:
I have thirty raw chickens in the refrigerator, and maybe another twenty in the freezer. I gave up my teaching job last spring in order to be a farmer, and being a farmer recently has involved killing a lot of chickens. (Some people say "process," but I prefer "kill".) I raised these chickens from chicks. I built shelter for them: two moveable, open-bottomed coops which I moved, faithfully, ever day to new pasture for them to munch on. I have fed them only organic food. Then I spent the past two days butchering them, which, while not as horrifying as you might think it would be, was nevertheless exhausting. With the power out, what will happen to all of those chickens? Will they rot? Was it all for naught? August, that was when I started on that project. All of that work since August could be for nothing.
Worrisome thing number two:
I have more chicken eggs in the incubator, due to hatch Halloween- which I just realized, is tomorrow!How long until the baby chicks die, or don't hatch from the cold?
Worrisome thing number three:
How will we live, without power? I haven't cut enough firewood to heat the house for any length of time! (I know, in my dazed and sleepless state, that we will never, ever get power back in our house again. We will live in the dark ages henceforth. And it is, might I note, very, very dark out there. Very dark.)
Finally, after an hour or two of worrying, I get up and find a flashlight and a phone book.
Downstairs, the only light is the frog light, because we power that one light with a solar panel of our own. I try to see outside if any of the neighbors on the hill have lights on, and I see one. I think they could have a frog light powered by a solar panel, but it is highly doubtful. I find, more and more, that we become more and more peculiar with age, and no one does things the way we do.
I check on the incubator. Still worrisome: it's already down to 70 degrees. It needs to be 99 degrees.
In the phone book, I find the the 24 hour number to the power company. I get dressed, leave an unseeable note on the refrigerator for BAH (I don't really think he's actually asleep [it's too quiet] but I hesitate to wake him) and get into my car. I drive to the top of a nearby hill, where I get cell phone reception. I notice everyone on top of the hill has power. Flood lights illuminate fields beside red barns. They don't have one frog light powered by a solar panel, but real power. I call the power company. They have an answering service. I tell them we don't have power. I tell them our address. I drive back home. It's 2:33 AM.
I change back into my pajamas in the pitch black dark, and crawl into bed. Ten minutes later, we have power again.
"How do they do that?" asks BAH, who clearly was never asleep. "Do they just flip a switch, or what?"
'Tis a mystery.
The next morning is the darkest morning I've ever seen. Waiting outside for the school bus, I tell Z we had a power outage last night. This seems to be news to her. But, six year old logic produces the following explanation for her nightmare,
"That must be why I had the dream, because the power went out."
"But the power went out after you had the nightmare."
"Yeah! That's why."
Well, of course it is. Why didn't I think of that?