Once upon a time, down a dark country lane
A family of five waited in vain.
After a long day of moving
They sought showers for soothing
The sore muscles and aches
That heavy lifting do make.
The faucets turned on
All their stresses soon gone.
Until the realization hit
And their builders name they did spit
The hot water was never coming…

It’s dark, at night, in the country.
Really dark.
Dark and loud.
At first it seems so quiet compared to the city… until your ears adjust. Until you begin to hear them. The creaks, croaks, hoots, chirps, and rustling footfalls of the hidden wildlife. Wildlife that, in theory, is afraid of you. Somehow I doubt the curious bobcat and the confident coyotes received that memo. Even the deer look at you like you’re the one who doesn’t belong, then go back to eating the grass.
When we realized that first night that there was no hot water, cursing the building was only the beginning. We assumed that the water heater merely needed to be lit.
The next guess was that the water heater had never been hooked to the propane line. A check proved our theory and sent chills up our spines. The tools required to firmly attach the hose were safely stored in the shed.
An acre away from the garage.
An acre of pitch black country nighttime.
But our craving for hot water outweighed our fear of being eaten. So, armed with a flashlight, shed keys, and a broom handle, we ran the gauntlet.
Running in the dark, in the country, is probably not the best idea. Many hidden predators probably like to chase their prey. That thought did not hit us until we were fumbling with the shed lock trying to get the door open. Adrenaline makes your sense of hearing greater, and I swear we were surround by hundreds of fury onlookers. An audience that was no doubt whispering, “don’t they know not to walk around in the dark out here?!”
We grabbed the tools we needed and hurried back to the safety of our concrete bunker. After some work, the water heater still did not light. The only explanation left was that the propane line to the house had never been opened. The location of that valve?
In the dark.
We gathered our gear and made our way out into the dark again. All I could think about was the warning from the HVAC installer about the horrifically mean wild pigs that roamed these parts. My highly alert ears ranged out to scan for the tale tell sound of approaching pigs while I stood guard for a crouching Andy. Then panic flooded my stomach… I don’t know what man-eating wild pigs sound like! What if they are silent killers?!
As soon as Andy uttered the word “done” I bolted for the garage. Every woman for herself! Andy’s yells to “wait for him” didn’t reach the rational side of my brain until my hand remembered that it was still holding the broom/defense weapon. I returned to the darkness while mumbling that I would be the one they attacked since I was the smaller and weaker of the two.
After all of that, we never did successfully fulfill our mission. Fear of explosions ultimately overshadowed our desire for hot showers. Two cold showers later we fell exhausted into bed, only to take turns waking each other every ten minutes with a “did you hear that?!”
A new house, a new environment, and a lack of curtains give life to the shadows that go bump and creak in the night.
A few days ago Andy mentioned in passing that something was eating our hay.
“What kind of something?” I ask.
“Looks like maybe pig tracks.” he mused.
The knowledge that wild, man-eating pigs lack the opposable thumbs required for opening doors may eventually allow me to sleep peacefully through the night…