Tonight, in a split second, our whole town disappeared into the cavernous dark depths of the West Elk Wilderness. The power went out and our old mining town sat there like a clump of coal.
There was a fat full moon hanging just above the crest of Crested Butte. The snow was all lit up by it -- fluorescent like black light. The houses all decorated with care for the holidays were sad, dark, shapeless lumps barely standing out in relief against the white, bright, light of moon snow.
We opened our curtains to borrow light from the moon and reflected snow.
I have hurricane lamps at the ready from the days when we lived in an old stone castle on San Francisco Bay where storms would sweep through the golden gate and blast salt water at our fortress. The castle could take anything, but the wind would blow the electricity out -- like a candle.
So I found my one flashlight no one's put somewhere else and lit the lanterns. The light was yellow and muted. Like how it must have been in the mining days.
We looked out at the other homes in our neighborhood and they were still, dark.
Then there was a flicker behind one yellowed shade. Then another. It was the English teacher's house and the windows flickered and danced like the flame in a pumpkin.
Catching on quickly, my daughter and I picked up our hurricane lamps and wove in and out from room to room and up and down the stairs to make our house into a Jack-O-Lantern for the neighbors. It was like being on stage.
Then our mood turned toward cuddling up and telling ghost stories by candle light and the smell of melting wax.
At that moment I started to fear our pipes would freeze tonight if the power didn't go back on. Tonight it's supposed to be a high of ten to fifteen below up here. It's like the fear you have during an earthquake wondering if it's going to last more than 30 seconds. Like if you hold your breath, the shaking will stop or the power will go back on.
We just settled down to enjoy the futility of worrying when presto change-o! All the lights and the furnace roared into action and the town began to hum again.
Then all the white of the full moon snow became white noise.