Psychologically, I am ready for winter to be over. I like the snow and the skiing and the trips to the gym that I just can’t justify when it’s nice out, but I would really like some nice warm days to come our way. Maybe I’m not ready for winter to be completely done, but I could use a February or early March thaw.
I was sitting here reading the other night, when the radio suddenly turned off. This is a common occurrence, due to the fact that my radio is a “solar” radio. I put solar in quotes because this is what the radio was advertised as, but it is, in fact a crank/rechargeable radio that happens to have a small solar panel on it.
This past summer I spent a little bit of money getting solar lights and this radio. Last winter I had used an old digital alarm clock for my radio. That clock was the same one that’s been waking me up since I was a freshman in high school. It was a good, old-fashioned plug in clock radio that had a battery backup so that if the power went out, your alarm would still go off. I went through a lot of nine-volt batteries listening to NCPR last winter, so many that I had to repair the wire harness a few times. I took that clock radio to the campground last spring and decided to leave it there when I got my new solar radio.
The reception that I get on the new radio is good, but tuning it is a hassle and if I don’t charge it in the car then I will inevitably spend a significant portion of my evening cranking the thing so that I’m not sitting here in an eerie, mind-numbing, depression-inducing silence.
All that being said though, I wonder how long I would last without it. Now, admittedly, I live in a writer’s dream. Solitude, peace, quiet, and lots of inspiration surround me. I like the peace and quiet, with no neighbors’ dogs barking or loud vehicles driving by. I like the lack of distraction when I’m writing and reading. But riding out the winter with its long nights would most definitely be a lot more trying if not for the company of the radio.
I suppose that when you deprive yourself of a lot of distractions, it becomes a luxury to have a little something going on in the background. I have friends that have come to visit the North Country and can’t sleep because there’s no sound of traffic or sirens to listen to as they drift off. I don’t have that problem. There’s no shortage of noise out here, it’s just not the type of noise created by planes, trains and automobiles.
Between the wood crackling in the stove and two rambunctious, mostly nocturnal cats, I have plenty of sound to drift off to. Throw Pico’s gentle snoring into the mix and the sound of the ever-present wind blowing around the cabin and it’s basically a symphony of natural sounds all night long. But there’s sometimes I just don’t feel like listening to the wind or to Ed and Herbie wrestling. That’s when the radio becomes important. The distraction of music or talk radio or whatever is on gives me a much needed respite from the regular sounds this cabin makes.
When the sun goes down at four-thirty in the afternoon, it’s the radio that keeps me awake until seven. When I don’t know if I should bother shoveling in the morning, it’s the radio that lets me know. And it’s not that I have the radio on all the time. I can’t write with the radio on, but I can read and play Scrabble. I don’t change the station that frequently because it’s a bother, so I often listen to talk radio or music for a week at a time. Sure, the radio I got may be under-performing. However, it’s my lifeline to the outside world and my one source of passive electronic entertainment. And if that means that I have to spend ten minutes cranking it to listen to twenty minutes of music, I guess I’ll just have to be OK with that.