Monday, December 18, 2006

A Day Without Sunshine Is Like... Night

When my parents became empty nesters, they bought a piece of property south of Monroe, Louisiana, on the Beouf River (pronounced Beff).

Both of my parents were raised in the country and went to a small town high school. So this was 'getting back to their roots' in a way.

My Dad had retired from 'the oilfield', which means he worked in the oil and gas industry. He worked for many years on off-shore oil drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, but still worked at a part-time job in Monroe to suppelment his retirement income. Plus, Mama was still working and had some time left before she could retire.

The property was two and a half acres of cleared land, with some trees left along the bank of the river. It was a pretty place, in the middle of cotton farming country.

Soon they sold the house I grew up in, in Monroe, and replaced the small two bedroom trailer that came with the property with a nice, brand-spankin' new double-wide trailer mobile home. There was a little barn-like shed already on the property, so with the new house, they were set.

It was soon after this, that my family and I moved back to Monroe for me to attend Louisiana Tech in nearby Ruston.

And we went down to visit Mama and Dad at the new place.

We had a nice visit, not to mention some of Sainted Mother's superb vittles, and we mosied on out to leave.

Our girls were little, about four and seven at the time, and we were in my Mazda extended cab pickup truck.

When we walked outside their mobile home, they had the light on under their carport. When we walked out from under the carport covering, I looked up and said, "Wow! Look at how clearly you can see the stars down here!"

It was impressive, especially after having lived in the Atlanta area for three years and not being able to see the night sky very well. It was as if each star was super bright that night.

My Dad said, "Check this out," and turned off the light outside the trailer.

Instant. Absolute. Stygian Gloom. Complete. And. Utter. Darkness.

I was walking toward my dark blue little truck and it was as if I had gone completely blind. I was so light blinded from my eyes using the carport light, that I truly could not see my hand in front of my face.

Lovely Wife, the girls, and I all started giggling and leaning forward as we walked until our hands ran into the truck. It was so dark that we found the truck by feel.

My Mom and Dad were laughing, they knew that would impress us. Then he turned the light back on after a minute; long enough for us to stumble around blindly.

We said our goodbye's and drove up their driveway to the country road they lived on. I looked both ways, and seeing no one, there might not be anyone else come down the road for an hour or more, and pulled out and just barely crept up the road.

I said, "Watch this," and turned out the headlights and we were plunged into the total darkness again, but this time is was double weird because we were barely moving down the road. The slight movement and the instant total darkness was a shock to the senses.

The girls exclaimed with delight.

I only did it for a few seconds, but it was shocking, and after that, the girls begged us, "Do it again! Turn off the lights again!"

And a new tradition was started. From then on, after leaving my parent's trailer in the country, we would turn off the truck's lights for a few seconds while on the road, before we had gained any real speed.

It was a sensation that the adults liked as much as the kids did.

It was like being in a cave, if you've ever been in one.


Hammer said...

They turned the lights off on us in the botton of Carlsbad caverns to show us what it was like for the first explorers when their candles and lanterns went out.

Some people had never been in complete and utter darkness before and started to freak out.

I thught it was interesting.

The night sky is something else when you're out in the country. some kids never get to see stars like that.

JAM said...

The wierdest thing was when my Dad turned off the light and the difference was crazy. It was so startling that I just went into feeling my way mode. Once I found my truck and looked up, my sense of balance and perspective corrected somewhat, because of the stars.

When I was a kid, we were in Shawnee Cave in the Ozarks and they did the lights out thing. Same exact feeling. Only in that cave, there was no looking up at stars to lend a little perspective.

Thanks for stopping by.

JAM said...

When I entered the above comment, Blogger made me enter a second word verification.

The second word was "yputz"

I wonder if Blogger is trying to tell me what it thinks of me.

Hammer said...


I got stfuluser before. I should have made a screenshot

Skittles said...

That was wonderful. My mom lived at the back of her forty acres of property and when we'd go down (to Florida) to visit, it was just sooo quiet. And dark. Not at all what us city folk were used to.