By Madeline Bodin

February 11, 2019


Our off-the-grid neighbors say that they know when the power has gone out because a chorus of hums rises from the generators in the valley. Now, our house has joined that choir.

But, listening from the short distance between the house and the driveway, the generator doesn’t drone on a single note. It spits out an entire orchestra of rattles, buzzes, whines and patters. The tone shifts higher when the load is heavy. Turn on the microwave, and the scolding is unmistakable. Remove the burden, and the motor sighs into another register.

In truth, I would rather sit in the dark than hear the effort required for every watt. It’s my turn to sigh when the generator is turned off, even if the power hasn’t returned. The resulting stillness feels like silence, although the distant hums continue. The fire in the woodstove sputters and shifts, but it never complains. The flashlights are as silent as stars.

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