Sounds and Random Ramblings

Random ramblings. That’s what follows a post about insomnia.

String together several lousy nights of sleep and what you get is a quasi-functioning robot, who drives, walks and talks. The lights are on but no one’s home.

Saturday I was tired and zombified. My mom offered to take the kids and we arranged a hand-off at a little church fair that afternoon. The church has been hosting the event for 137 years and not much has changed since it began. Glance around at the weathered wooden booths, the penny candy games and the jousting competition, and — I’m telling you — it elicits a Back to the Future moment. Suddenly I’m whisked back 50 years.

The kids took about a minute to slip out of sight. Brynn was pretty easy to find. She’d snuck under a table at a game booth and was raiding the prize box, stuffing plastic toys down the front of her diaper (her solution when she’s without pockets).

Well, there’s one kid, I thought, scanning the crowd. I wasn’t too concerned. A small-town church where everyone’s neighbors? Pretty low risk on the lost-kid meter.

At that very moment I heard a whump! and a horse with an empty saddle trotted by. By my feet rested a jousting contestant. He was an older man and flat on his back, his lance pointing straight up as if he planned to spear a cloud. Turns out, he just had the wind knocked out of him. By the time I’d disarmed him, others were there to help him up.

But while I was distracted, Brynn snuck off. Fortunately Mom arrived. She helped with the round-up and carted the kids away. I went home and napped.

For five hours.

I napped the equivalent of a cross-country flight. I closed my eyes mid-afternoon and woke at 8 pm. At sunset. Utterly disoriented.

“Hey there,” Martin said from the couch. “Welcome back.”

I stumbled outside to get my bearings. The sun was orange and pink, hunkered over the trees, the air was still and I could hear a band playing —  a concert at a distant vineyard, across the Potomac. I walked up the neighbor’s gravel drive and sat cross-legged by the pine trees. I closed my eyes and listened. The band was covering Tom Petty. “Free Fallin.”

In between music sets, it was quiet and still. So quiet I heard Mel purring in the pine trees. I also heard a hushing sound. A steady huff, huff, huff.

It was the cows. I thought they’d sound like horses, who audibly crop the grass. But what I heard were breaths — as the cows grazed, their heaving breaths whooshed out their noses. The herd, exhaling at different times, sounded like someone scuffing their feet through a thick carpet.

I called the cat and dog home. Then I dragged Martin outside to listen to the band and watch the sunset.

I didn’t ask him to listen to the cows. Too weird.

But when I went to sleep later on, I didn’t count sheep. I thought of cows and carpeting.