Friday, 16 January 2009

In the Darkness of a Cold Clear Night

Did you know that at 3 a.m. on a night as cold as this one is you can turn on your radio and bring in hundreds of tiny stations that merge, mingle and blurr one another? If there were a radio tower on the moon I could have brought it in tonight. There is an emptiness out there that is unnerving. Anything can happen. I cannot maintain an internet connection for more than a minute. It is as if it sucks everything into itself like a vaccuum.

I have been up every two hours all night feeding the fire to keep the downstairs warm, the upstairs comfortably cool ... and so that I can maintain my sense of comfort around my hearth; so that I can push back that vast alienating emptiness.

At 4:30 we got up for good and had breakfast. I ate mine sitting in the big rocker by the fire, reading Through Black Spruce. Coincidentally, one of the narrators was alone in the low Arctic bush in the middle of the night listening to a nearby wolf pack that made him afraid. He was not afraid of the wolves but of the loneliness that threatened to engulf him, and what undid him was the fact that the wolves had a pack whereas he was utterly alone.

I seldom feel as naked as I felt tonight. It is not fear of living here alone, not a fear of being in danger. Rather it was the reminder that there is that vast emptiness out there. A void that can suck in a myriad of strangers' voices and spit them out at me; a limitless nothingness that could swallow me whole.

I seldom feel that disconnected, likely because I live in a country that values community and kinship even though I choose to live on its outskirts. But tonight I felt the bleakness.

I think we all seek to allay isolation in one way or another ... with friends ... by making love ... having babies ... adopting pets.

Kenya and I will return to the comfort of the fire where the loneliness can remain outside our circle of light. I will try to post this later when the internet connection will allow it.


Barbara Carlson said...

Received and noted --
Down here in the city we can feel alone, too. These cracking cold days do that to a body. A disconnected, mental survival mode sets in even if we are not physically affected (we are OK at the moment, touch wood.)
We went to a mall yesterday just to get out of the apartment. Prove we weren't trapped, I guess.
Our framer is now without a furnace - broken. Can't be fixed till Monday...maybe. They have a wood stove; live in a log house.

We all have to be strong.

Oma said...

When the deep freeze cracked itself open today I was able to start the car without the help of a boost and I drove to Ottawa to charge the battery. I ended up at a Farm Boy that was over crowded, too hot, filled with impatient angry people. The experience sent me flying back to my tiny village stores where people know me and to my isolated lake home.

I was likely proving to myself that I could get out ... once I really could.

I need occasional reminders that I need to be alone ... just not atomized in an alienating universe.

Barbara Carlson said...

It's a funny old life, eh? A real "rum do" as Brits would day.

Yeh, the feathery diamond-bright frost covering windows is still there today, but grey and will soon slip off. Won't be long till the window flies take over again.