Sleeping has been tough these last couple of nights, as my head and chest are pretty congested from this nasty Florida-acquired head-cold. There is an advantage to waking up at 3 AM though; you get to appreciate the middle-of-the-night sounds that normally cruise below the perceptual radar.

Our hundred year-old timber house creaks and groans as it adjusts to changes in the outside temperature. The heating system comes on periodically, and the sound of either the electric or oil furnace tells me just how cold it is outside (the oil only kicks in below -12C). The three room humidifiers all come on at different times, trying to keep some semblance of moisture in this dry wood and stucco sponge that predates the use of vapor barriers and insulation in the walls. The refrigerator’s compressor hums periodically as it engages to keep the temperature stable and our food safe. If you close your eyes and listen really hard, you can hear the fan on my computer and the flickering diodes on the modem and other electronics in my office. And if you’re really lucky, you might hear some late-night denizen of the wild scrambling over the rooftop (usually a squirrel) or overturning a garbage can (raccoon or skunk).

The “thunk” of the newspaper hitting the front stoop at 4:30 AM heralds in the morning even though it’s pitch black outside.

Last night I watched a CBC documentary about all the wildlife in and out of a suburban home, and how there’s so much background action of which we’re hardly aware. I believe it. All very comforting signs that we’re still alive.