One of my most favorite sounds in the world is when I’m in bed at night, trying to fall asleep, and I hear the furnace cycle on.
I’m not sure if it’s the white noise factor that lulls me to sleep, or whether it’s the memory of being all cozy and bundled up in bed on chilly evenings when I was little. It might be just knowing that some warmth is on its way. But I love it, and within minutes, I’m out like a light.
My love for that sound is further magnified if it’s a weekend and I don’t have to get up early the next day. Bonus points if it’s the sound that also gently wakes me up the next morning.
When I was younger, my bedroom had two large windows in it. My bed was usually positioned in some manner under one of them, as I rearranged my room often but still liked to be able to look up into the night sky while nodding off. It was the best during the Christmas season, when strands of our old-school C9 lights were hung just under the trim of the house. I would lay in bed, staring up at them with heavy eyes, trying to decide whether I wanted to count bulbs or sheep. Red, blue, green, white and orange lights kept watch outside. If it was raining, their colors would create a kaleidoscope of vibrant hues as they glimmered through the raindrops on my window.
While it never really gets unbearably cold in these parts of California, there are nights when you can feel the chill sneaking through a single-pane window. On December nights during my childhood when it would get down into the 30s or 40s, the heater would cycle on and there’d be a delightful fogging up of the glass that would take place. The Christmas lights would gradually appear more and more fuzzy, since the glass was slowly taking on a frosted appearance the longer the heater ran. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting where snow would rest gently on the glass window panes, the whole scene flanked by pine trees. Only in Southern California, it was the strategic fogging up of the glass — corners first — with a palm tree swaying in the breezy, damp air a few houses away.
This evening when I got home, I flipped on a small light on in the family room, plugged in my twinkle light-adorned palm tree for extra ambience and caught up on some Sex and the City reruns. Maybe the dipping temperatures outside struck a chord, or maybe the tiny twinkle lights inspired my train of thought. Either way, the trip down memory lane was enchanting.
Tonight I am thankful for the inspiration to put up Christmas lights when the weekend after Thanksgiving rolls around, for the cooler nights that will be here in a few days and for the assurance that the familiar, comforting noise that lulled me to sleep for so many years will soon do its job once more.
And on a weekend, no less.