A low rumble of thunder from the north made me thankful we were indoors on this night of restless weather. Rain soon beat an uninterrupted rhythm on the roof and windows.
I looked forward to finally having a small window of time this evening just to read. I tucked my Kindle under my arm as I snugged a blanket around me on the sofa while my husband flipped through channels looking for the basketball game. There was something about reading inside while rain pelted on the outside that resonated warmth and security to me.
My Kindle blinked a warning that the battery was critically low, and I sighed and pulled the blanket off to go get the charger. I was midstep down the hall when a searing bolt of lightning filled not only the outdoor sky but flooded every window. The lights died and the momentary silence was broken with a short squeal from Teenaged Daughter, in her bathroom. "My hair! How can I finish curling it now?"
My husband smiled as he made his way to the utility room to get portable lights and flashlights. "Why are you curling your hair? You aren't going anywhere," he laughed.
"I was practicing a new style, and it's only half done!" she lamented. She sighed and came out of her room to get one of the flashlights. "I guess I'm just going to text my friends."
"Stay off the phone," he warned. "Remember what happened to Grandma? (Lightning Strikes) We don't want any more lightning incidents when someone is on the phone." She sighed again, flopped into a chair and grabbed a book and a flashlight.
"I think you girls have the right idea. Some reading will be a good thing to do while we wait for the power to come back on, " my husband remarked as he pulled out a big book from a shelf and a adjusted a portable lantern near his chair. I looked at my now useless charger and Kindle. "Here, Hon, here's another light so you can still read," he offered.
I thought for a moment. "I think I'm going to try it the true old fashioned way," I told them as I stepped into the living room. I removed one of my grandmother's kerosene lamps from the top of the vintage piano where they serve as accent pieces. It still had lantern oil in it from a school project. The wick was trimmed. I lit it and moved to the bookcase that fully covered an entire wall of that large room.
The lantern cast a warm and supple light on the shelves and shelves of books. I ran my fingers across the spines until I came to some of my oldest books. The House of the Seven Gables, this copy printed in 1868, caught my eye and I slid it out. I held it close to my face and inhaled as I moved to a small desk to set up my lamp. It smelled of long skirts and high button shoes, of stovepipe hats and carriages and horses and war and a divided nation.
I wondered about the first person who had bought this book, brought it home from a bookstore and perhaps read it by lamplight, as I was doing now. The pages, though softened with age and now a faint ecru instead of white, still proclaimed clearly in the dancing lamplight, "Halfway down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables..."
I pulled the blanket tightly around my shoulders and stuffed the Kindle and charger into a drawer even as the rain continued to tattoo the roof and the lantern cast intricate shadows on the wall. "...facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst..."
I love a rainy night.