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August 25, 2012

RONN MOTT: Enjoying the sound of silence

Don’t you find it curious when thunderstorms take out our electricity how quiet, and dark, our homes and neighborhoods become? We’re so used to the soft buzzing sound of a refrigerator, a quiet whir of ceiling fans and the ongoing noise of television from early morning until late at night. Although we understand why, it also feels a little strange to look out a window and not see light in our neighbors’ homes.

It sounds silly, but the quietness takes on a peacefulness that’s difficult to describe. We don’t often hear it. And the darkness that eventually comes reminds me of what the pioneers and others of their time experienced all of their lives. Of course, they got by just fine with their fires, torches and full moons. And they probably got more sleep than we do.

The night of the storm, we put candles and oil lamps to good use and sat on the front porch watching the darkness creep in. (Our only source of artificial light was a large flashlight.) One of our oil lamps has a large, white globe. It was the only light we needed in one room and, I must admit, it gave out a nice glow that created a cozy atmosphere. Of course, the candles made the house smell especially good, and my wife always enjoys the fragrances.

We usually watch the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball games on TV but, because of the storm, we listened to one on a battery-operated radio. It took me back to a time when I used to listen to the Cardinals on the radio with my dad. It was something I looked forward to because my dad was such a fan. He, too, was a good baseball player and told me many stories about his playing days.

The silence didn’t last all evening with the game on, and I predicted the power wouldn’t be restored until sometime later the next day. Instead, it came back on in the wee hours with lights clicking on, the refrigerator resuming its normal hum, ceiling fans softly whirring and the television blaring. So much for quiet.

I suppose it all boils down to what you get used to. That said, I am quite spoiled with a big TV screen and everything I could possibly want in HD programming, a regular hot meal and an occasional cold brew from that big, cold box in the kitchen.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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