The Coldest Night in River Falls

Tonight is reported to be the coldest night of the year in River Falls, but something else is different as I make my nocturnal visit to the bathroom, a visit typical of people my age.  I return to my bed and count the steady tick of the Regulator clock downstairs in the living room.  I roll over to view the red, digital lights on the clock that sits quietly on my nightstand.  No red lights, and for that matter, no night lights.  No electrical power.

The Regulator chimes midnight and I think of the kid in The Polar Express waiting for Santa Claus.  I lie awake listening to the rhythmical ‘tick tock …. tick tock.’  No soft hum from the furnace, only the ‘tick, tock’ as the temperature in the house inevitably drops.

I pull the quilt closer.  Hans is too old to climb stairs, so he sleeps downstairs.  He shakes his collar and the familiar sound of lapping water echoes through the house as he gets a drink.  Minutes pass.  He barks.  Once, twice.  I rise after the third bark and manage to retrieve my long johns from the dark closet.

Hans waits patiently as I descend the steps, put on my boots and parka.  “Let’s go, buddy.”  The frigid air slaps my face.  “Wake up!”  I do.

The night is still, but doesn’t mind the crunch of my boots on the frozen snow that still covers the street.  Light from the full moon penetrates the thin layer of clouds that streak the sky and illuminates the frozen world made wondrously white from the deep snow that blankets the ground. 

I wonder if other people and other dogs are awake as Hans and I walk down the street.  I doubt it.  He wags his tail.  If I had a tail, I would wag mine, too.  The night is beautifully cold, white and silent.

My human limitations influence me to turn around after five minutes, and when we do, the street light on the corner comes to life just as surely as God said, “Let there be light!”  Furnaces quietly turn on and the soft glow of night lights and lamps illume a handful of windows.

It’s -9o F at 3 AM.  I thank Hans for rousing me so we could walk together while our neighbors sleep.

There is peace on Earth in River Falls.


4 responses to “The Coldest Night in River Falls”

  1. Theresa Schneider Avatar
    Theresa Schneider


  2. Mary Ann Williamson Avatar
    Mary Ann Williamson

    Ah, good ! Still painting pictures in our minds with your words.

  3. Joe Jeruzal Avatar
    Joe Jeruzal

    thanks. ~~J

  4. Absolutely love it!!!

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