[The Ideal Reading Lamp. Photo source: Me.]
Other than a wind storm that blew in a window in our screened-in porch, downed branches and howled like a demon on Bald Mountain, there really isn’t very much to write about these days. I should note that the aforementioned window has not been removed, for cleaning or otherwise, by us in several summers. It was simply too stuck to remove. Perhaps the house has shifted on its foundation over the years moving the windows (plastic inserts, really) into misalignment.
Whatever. The wind took care of all that last night. To make matters even more difficult, the power went out while we were struggling in the frigid porch. At one point, I felt like Captain Blood battling with the mainsail in a typhoon off the coast of Tasmania. I felt like Heathcliff on the Yorkshire Moors. I felt like Scott in the Antarctic. I felt like Sir Edmund on the summit of Everest. I felt like Dorothy during the tornado in Kansas.
I felt like all these people, but it was only me and Mariam on a freezing evening in April.
Life in the North Country.
Life in the North Country. There is the ever-present darkness, arriving early in the winter but not soon enough in the early spring. A very fine segue, if I say so myself, to bring up and write about reading lamps.
Go ahead. Google “Reading Light”. You will come up with hundreds of choices from places like Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Amazon and L.L.Bean. And the lights themselves? The designs will look like something from Captain Kirk’s room, a toddler’s bedside stand, a bordello in New Orleans or from a dark corner in the recesses of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
All of those models shown are functional, to a point. Most of them are of fine quality. Some, absolute works of art. But it’s what they have in common that’s interesting.
They dispel the darkness and allow you to pull a Kindle, iPhone or even, heaven forbid, a book made of paper up to your chest and put you in touch with the written word.
For me, there’s an added factor. I have an innate fear of the dark. My reading lamp allows me to exist in a cone of light where I am safe. Where nothing can get to me from under the bed. Where I can doze and wake and still see around me…into the dark corners where dark things of all sorts and sizes dwell.
I can lean into my latest New Yorker magazine, my newest copy of a Jo Nesbo mystery. Perhaps I’ll read a few more pages of Proust (I’m determined to read The Book while I can still breath). Maybe I’ll dig deep enough into the pile beside my bed and find the second book of the Hornblower series.
During the course of my reading life, I’ve gone through dozens of lamps. It’s hard to believe, but I’ve only found a handful that suit me and my needs. As I grow older, I find I need more light, but I can’t use the large lamp on my nightstand…Mariam is asleep only a few inches away.
There’s always the old stand-by, my headlamp. It’s the way I read when I’m camping and don’t want to risk the more romantic candle in a tent with down sleeping-bags. And who can really read by candlelight, anyway? Maybe Abraham Lincoln…and look where it got him. Besides, a headlamp leaves a reddish mark around my forehead. I can’t get up and wander to the bathroom at 3:30 am looking like I just had a cranial tattoo done in a shop off Sunset Strip.
The lamp I am presently using is an older high-intensity light. These lights pre-dated the LED’s that are so commonplace today. The only drawback to this lamp (it provides great illumination) is that it gets hot. So hot, that if I accidentally touch the area near the bulb with oven mittens, I will burn off three layers of my epidermis. And, I can tell you from experience that one will have trouble sleeping with the odor of burnt human flesh in the bedroom.
This is the lamp I now use:
[My reading lamp. I had to turn the build away to keep it from blowing out the camera in my iPhone. Photo source: It is obviously mine. Do you think I would let some stranger in to take a picture of my light at 12:39 am?]
In our guest bedroom is a typical Adirondack-themed reading lamp. I have no idea if any of our house guests read at night…but we provide one anyway. For me, the cone of light is too small to fully illuminate my book. It looks cute but I would rate its functionality at 4/10.
[Guest bedroom reading lamp. Photo source: Me.]
To put the light out on this blog post, I can say that my favorite reading lamp (pictured at the top of this post) is both esthetically beautiful, functional, simple and gentle on my eyes.
The problem is: it’s located in a small hotel in Knowlton, Quebec, Canada.
And, I don’t steal things.