The quest for light was arduous and cold. I was determined to return the twinkling lights of Christmas to their former brilliance. If that meant having to slog through the piles of drifted snow, tracing the wires from one end to the other, then that was what I was set on doing. No sacrifice was too great if I was to restore the holiday spirit extinguished along with my lights.
I fortified myself with layers of insulation to combat what I knew would be an unrelenting enemy arrayed to prevent my success. Long underwear, turtle neck sweater, down filled jacket, boots that rose to mid calf, and two layers of gloves to keep my fingers from the numbing cold. I set out into a wind that mocked my feeble mortality, promising to make my efforts as painful as possible. But I had the spirit of Christmas as my companion, so I was undaunted by the elements.
I pushed my way through the plowed up pile of windblown snow alongside the driveway so that I could reach the first of several electical cord junctions hidden in the bushes. My trusty shovel cleared away the worst of the pile, enabling me to keep the snow from creeping inside the top of my boots. I found the first set of light plugs where I expected to find them and discovered that all was fine. The plugs were all secure and dry. So I had to continue on around the house to the front, where the next set of cords terminated in a nest of plugs under the bushes up against the house. The swirling wind bit my face. My eyes watered from the cold, I was beginning to feel the first signs of numbing fingers in my inadeqaute gloves. Somehow some of the snow had found its way down the top of my boots. Cold feet and cold fingers were battling for my attention. But I was on a mission that would not be slowed by mere discomfort.
At the front of the house, the bushes that held the lights appear to present a solid mass of foliage, but in reality there is an empty space below and behind them that is reachable at most times of the year by scampering on hands and knees. But in this case the wind had blown the access to the back of the bushes shut tight with a mound of snow. I had no choice but to tunnel my way through the drifted obstacle like some crazed critter intent on finding shelter from the storm. Indeed, I fully expected to be confronted by a host of hunkered down rabbits, who had found the space congenial and the wires I sought to be delicious when nibbled. Instead what I found was no sign of any animal life and the wires unmolested and functioning as intended. All I got for my tunnelling effort was snow down my collar to add to my already high level of discomfort. Still, I was not ready to end my quest. I soldiered on to the front porch, where another grouping of electrical cords ended in a cluster of mated outlets and plugs.
Again I found, after stumbling and clawing my way through the icy drifts and slipping on the hidden steps, that the lights were intact and the cords all safely joined. I was beginning to wonder if my valiant search would be successful. The cold wind slapping my face and spanking my snow covered butt was causing me to doubt my ability to continue. But I had made it this far and, with any kind of luck, I would find the problem in the next stand of bushes that taunted me twenty feet of foot high snow away.
As I slogged my way toward those bushes, shovel flying from side to side in an effort to both clear the way and to keep me warm, I noticed a beaten down path of suspicious footprints heading into those same bushes from the other direction. Those footprints were decidedly unhuman, having four pawprints at each jumping point. I was sure I had found the reason that the lights of Christmas had been extinguished. The path I saw was surely made by one of those itinerant bandit racoons that steal their way through the neighborhood, looking for targets of opportunity and the chance to wreack mayhem on the unsuspecting. I dove into the bushes with a vengenace, hoping to surprise the villain in the act of gnawing his way through my extension cord. I wielded my shovel as a battle ax, hoping to render a fatal blow to the miscreant that had caused me so much touble and pain. But, alas, my vengeance went unrequited, my bloodlust unsatisfied. No bandit was to be found. The only evidence that he had even stopped for a moment as he passed through was the neat pile of scat that I managed to get stuck to my boots as I plunged headlong into the fray. Again the cords and lights were unmolested and just as I had left them arranged.
Disheartened, dismayed, and dumbfounded, I desparately struggled to drag my nearly frozen body back to the shelter and warmth of my home. In my foray into that inhospitable landscape of frozen tundra, I had come up empty and defeated. I was no nearer a solution to the turned out lights than I was before I donned my fleecy armor and dove into the snowdrifts. A disgruntled sigh, no, actually a moan, stole past my frozen lips as the wind bit again into my numbed face. The tears of disappointment froze on my cheeks as I pushed my way back into the house, trying to brush away the snow on my jacket and pants as a way of brushing away my failure. Yes, I had failed. The Grinch had won. There woud be no more twinkling lights to enliven our Christmas spirit. I was a failure........
Then again, maybe I made the whole thing up. What I actually did was what any non-brain dead reasonably intelligent person would do. I checked each of the three extension cords and the lights that attached to them by disconnecting them from the timer and plugging them in indivdually to see which one might be the cause of the failure. When all three responded with burning lights, logic told me that the problem lay with the timer. I tested the timer by plugging the cords into it again and turning it on. When it made whining noise and the lights went out, I didn't need any further convincing that I had found the problem. My mama didn't raise no fools. Solution? Plug the cords into a different power strip. Problem solved. Took all of ten minutes. Didn't even have to put my gloves on. Only now I have to go outside to turn the lights on and off maually each day. No more timer. But I dont think the three steps outside to the power strip are going to cause me more than a moments regret.
Still, it could have happened the other way.