Paws for Thought on Why the Lights Go Out

The image shows a yellow Labrador

Note from Lois: For Fiji’s non-South African readers, load shedding is a system of scheduled rolling electrical blackouts that can affect us for periods of two hours several times a day.

Hi everyone, it’s me – Fiji!

I usually feel like we dogs make perfect sense. Most of the time, humans also make sense. But occasionally they just don’t.

Like when we’re talking about light and darkness. To me it’s perfectly simple – when it’s light, I’m awake and it’s time to play, or eat, or walk, or run, or work. And when the lights go out and it’s dark, it’s time to sleep. And that’s just the way it is, right?

For humans it all seems more complicated. Because they can make light even after the sun has gone to sleep. Which can be good because there’s more time to play and eat and run. But less time to sleep.

But sometimes it’s even more strange than that. At the moment, and for quite a long time now, it seems like humans lose their ability to create light. Because sometimes we have what Mom calls load shedding – and all the lights go out, seemingly for no reason. It’s not even because Mom or Dad go around the house and turn off all the electric lights. They just stop working. And everything goes dark.

What follows is Mom and Dad growling a bit at something called Eskom, and Dad running around to find a torch or a candle. Then he creates a small ray of light so he can find his way around the house.

Often I know when they are about to lose their light creating powers, because they run around the house and switch everything off. But sometimes they seem unprepared, and that’s when they growl the loudest. I’m not sure how they sniff out that it’s going to happen, but it might have to do with their mobile phones. Because their growling often happens after looking at one of those.

Then there are the times that the lights suddenly switch back on in the middle of the night when we are all asleep. I think that’s the strangest of all, and I love popping out from where I’m sleeping under the bed and watching the startled sleepy look on Dad’s face when he gets woken up by the bright light on the bedside table glaring into his eyes. Mom just seems to sleep through it, which seems a far more sensible way to react. At least, it does to me.

You know, it’s not just the lights that go out – it seems like all sorts of different objects in the house stop working. And everything goes quiet. No more of the muted buzz of electricity that is normally a constant part of life.

Mom and Dad have managed to find ways to get some objects working even after the lights go out. They have batteries to make the internet work, they both use laptops, which don’t need to be constantly plugged in to a power outlet, and they even have a few lights on the wall that continue to glow dimly at night after everything else has gone dark.

There have even been times when the lights are off and Mom’s laptop starts making strange noises. It almost sounds as if it’s about to launch itself into the sky like a drone. And then it either switches off on its own, or Mom shuts the lid of the laptop and growls again. As everything goes quiet.

Mom and Dad have even managed to find a way to make tea and coffee when the electricity is off. They use a kettle, which looks to me like a big dog bowl with a lit and a bit of a metal hosepipe sticking out the side, which they fill with water and put on the gas stove. The big dog bowl bumps and rattles for a few minutes before letting out a piercing shrill whine, which Mom has told me is called a whistle. only it doesn’t sound like the noise humans make to call us dogs, or the musical instrument that Dad plays, which he says is also a whistle. I don’t understand how three different things can have the same name? Wouldn’t that be like naming all my doggy siblings Fiji ? How would we know who was being talked to?

I asked Mom to read this before posting it, and she pointed out that I manage to sleep when the lights are on. Which is true, but it takes lots of hard work to be that good at sleeping and I need to practise lots to make sure I don’t lose the knack.

Which reminds me, it’s almost time for my next daytime sleep practise session. After all, I wouldn’t want my skills to get rusty, would I?

See you next month!

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