I went to bed at a reasonable time last night: comfortable, drowsy and ready for sleep. The wind, gusting audibly through the trees, was at first not a problem. Like waves crashing on a beach, or birdsong, natural sounds – even when quite loud – can, in the right circumstances, be soothing.
When I didn’t fall readily asleep, though, the noise became worrisome. Were large branches going to come crashing out of my old maple trees? Would fallen trees once again take out the electricity? Then, the humming of the refrigerator joined in…and the single knock – that I’m still not used to – that indicates that my new freezer is about to go into its whiny cooling cycle…and the snoring of my big dog…and the whispery breath of my small dog…until of course I couldn’t fall asleep amidst the cacophony.
Awake, I let my mind wander to all the little worries and annoyances that wait – always – for any opening. I thought of projects waiting for my attention. I went over my Christmas gift list. I plotted out a strategy for what I wanted to accomplish today…and this week…and this month. I mulled over my finances, and revisited several ideas for supplementing my income. I worried over the general life satisfaction of each of my children…and grandchildren…and dogs.
For a while, I lay still, wondering if a stitch in my side was indicative of a major problem. Drawing from whatever medical knowledge I could muster in the middle of the night, I ruled out heart attack and stroke. I went ahead and gave myself a breast exam…since I was already laying there, and worried about my health. I did a couple leg lifts…until the little dog got annoyed…just for good measure.
Finally, I got out of bed. I folded a load of clothes, moved rugs from the washer to the dryer, and started a small load of towels. I put away the dishes I’d left to drain dry. I made a cup of Sleepy-Time tea. When that didn’t do the trick, I fried a potato. Not fried potatoes like I’d cook as a side dish; middle-of-the-night potatoes are special.
One potato, peeled and cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into “smiles,” fried in a single layer, in butter, in the cast iron pan…without turning…until they are golden brown but still “al dente.” The finished product: a not-quite-raw, hot and crisp bowl of sliced potato, slippery with butter. It’s just exactly the way we ate them as children, sneaking them from the pan before they were cooked through. I could almost imagine the swat of Mom’s hand if she caught us.
By the time I finished, I felt ready to try to go to bed again. This time, cozy and full and reminded of my childhood, the howling winds brought me to the Swiss Alps, with Heidi – which was my very first and always much-loved chapter book – and I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the big wind in the trees, and thoughts of prancing goats and mountain views.