The fan attached to our bargain model fireplace unit is dying. It’s a small miracle that it has gotten us this far, and it’ll be a large one if it fires up this fall when we call it back into service. You know how things on the brink of death get after a season of disuse.
Take Larry the Lizard, for instance. He brumates his way through the winter each year. It’s a fancy word, but all it means is that he hibernates; he doesn’t ‘do’ winter. The temperatures drop outside, and Larry gets groggier and groggier until he’s virtually comatose. His forays out into the grassy yard are less and less exciting. They’re also less and less dangerous, because he no longer has the will to bolt (Larry once survived in the wilds of Colfax for ten early spring days after one of his more successful bolts). He does more looking at his superworms than eating them, and soon even romaine is more challenge than this predator can rise to. And then one day he just goes to sleep.
Traditionally, Larry wakes several times each winter, just to check on the status of the sun and the snowmelt. He runs around the house like a wild man–throwing himself at doors and windows–basks in whatever weakened rays might fall in through the patio doors, maybe treats himself to a juicy leaf or two, and then heads back to the aquarium. Nevermind. It’s not worth being up. Lemme know when it’s June. As the years go by though, Larry’s brumation is more and more intense, and we often resort to a weekly check for breathing.
No matter the length or intensity of this beardie’s naps, when he finally comes to f’real in the spring, the old bones are creaky. Holding himself up is hard. Walking a straight line is harder. Navigating the hard floor—bereft of all tractionable surface—is an exercise in abject cruelty. It takes him a few days to work out the kinks and get his equilibrium back. A few more to pump enough blood to the extremities to make towards a trot. Particularly the rear left foot, broken years back in a dramatic backpack incident. The bones tell the tale of the passing of time.
And so it is that I worry–not for Larry, who is as we speak making headway on his annual resurrection–but for the little fan that could, currently pumping fiery air out into the core of our home like a tired champ. He’s made it through his working man’s winter, grunting to life each cold morning, taking his breaks as needed to catch his breath. But soon the heating season will be over, and he and his fireplace will fall into disuse for the season. And the effort required to begin again in the fall may be more than he can muster. Hopefully he’ll steal a few pages from the lizard’s book.
If you need me, I’ll be here imagining Larry (and that fan) worse off than myself. If you listen carefully you might hear the grunting as I heave myself up off the floor. If you miss that, you’ll certainly catch the deafening fireworks coming from my knees. Or the litany of moans and groans as I hobble off to the bedroom.
Cover your ears,