December 29, 2010

It’s another calm and cool night here, although the weather is supposed to take a turn towards the wet and the cold starting tomorrow, with a freeze watch up for Thursday night into Friday. It’s a strange La Nina winter with all the rain and storms coming in off the Pacific, but we’ll take it – rain is the desert southwest’s lifeblood.

streetlight There’s a streetlight I can’t help being attracted to whenever I sit out on the patio. It’s on the next block over, to the south of us, towards the east end of the street. It’s one of those modern, orange-y sodium vapor kind of deals, and while I lament the passing of the simple incandescent, then the fluorescent, kind of street lamp it still holds my attention.

Call me weird, but streetlights have always held a fascination for me, and for reasons I’ve never quite understood they’ve always been a part of my fondest memories growing up. My earliest dream as a child was being in a car and driving down a dark windy road and seeing a single yellow streetlight illuminating the brown leaves of oak trees around it. And one of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in the back seat of my parents car as they drove us home from a visit to some relative outside Boston and falling asleep as the fluorescent streetlights passed one by one above us.

In my youth streetlights always had a functional purpose: you always had to keep your eyes on them as it grew dark, as when they came on that meant it was time to high-tail it in from from playing outside – a practice I doubt many of today’s sedentary youth zombies with their damned cell phones and electronic games would ever understand. Maybe in that way streetlights provided some inner sense of security; when they came on you knew you had a home to return to with parents who loved you and cared about you.

In my memory streetlights were inextricably tied to the seasons. During the winter it was from streetlights that you could tell how hard it was snowing at night; when I was young I loved getting up in the middle of the night to watch the snow fall against the streetlight outside our bedroom. And it was from that same streetlight when, during the oppressive weeks of July and August as sleep was hard to come by (this was before the days of central air!), you’d see the big bugs zigzagging in and out of the light like mini fighter planes in dogfights. As summer turned into autumn, whenever it became foggy, it was via streetlights that the night into a magical, mystical far off kind of place. And I’ve always enjoyed the sight of the bright and dull colors of autumn trees illuminated by nearby streetlights.


Streetlights also remind me of telephone poles – something else I’ve always been fascinated by, again, who knows why? I’ve always liked the sight of telephone poles along the side of a road, especially when the road was long and straight. Isn’t there something about telephone poles standing as dark sentries against a burning red yellow of a summer sunset? Or the sight of a lonely row of telephone poles along a huge field, perhaps in the Mississippi Delta? And the more the poles are leaning off center, the better – I don’t know, I always thought that looked cool with all the wire strung between them. A childhood memory: the smell of the creosote when a new pole was brought in to replace one brought down by a storm.

For some reason I equate telephone poles with the beach; I remember how they always stood out along the flat lands and marshes when my parents would take us on drives to Gloucester or Salisbury Beach. Even today, whenever I take a drive up to the beach I know I’m getting near the ocean when I can see the telephone poles along Rt. 213. During a heavy snowfall, you could always count on the telephone poles standing sturdy, brown, and familiar against the white transformed landscape.

I remember one heavy ice storm when we lived in Dracut, Tracey and I taking a walk outside and watching the glow of transformers blowing as power lines would come down from the weight of ice upon them. We hurried back to our condo to get every candle out we could find.

Fond memories from inanimate objects. Funny, huh?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:54 | Comments Off on Streetlights And Telephone Poles
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