Monday, August 29, 2011


There's nothing like an extended power outage to make me appreciate the little things, like popping bread into the toaster, or the quiet whirl of the refrigerator motor, or running water to wash my hands or brush my teeth.  I forgot how much I appreciate being able to open a refrigerator or freezer to find food, just ready and waiting to be prepared.  How I've taken advantage of the almost instant ability to have something cold and refreshing, or warm and comforting, just because I could.  A light switch -- such an easy thing, until you flick it and nothing happens.  A shower never seems like a luxury until there's no chance of taking one for a while. 

While a power outage is a major inconvenience, it is nothing compared to the devastation that's occurred with Irene's barging in -- bridges washed out, roads erased, homes swallowed by mudslides, dams compromised, a museum and its historic contents flooded, a car as it tumbled down down a muddy river, a curious onlooker swallowed up and lost in a raging creek -- and all of this happened in our back yard and within an hour or two of my home. Typically, we can take these events in with an empathetic perspective, because it always happens somewhere else, usually in the southern United States.  We would watch such natural disasters, and think "Oh, those poor people," make a donation to the Red Cross, and heave a sigh of relief that, at least, it doesn't happen here, not in "the great northeast."  Neither do earthquakes, and one of those made its presence known here last week.  Maybe we've been a little blissfully ignorant.  It can happen here. It just did.

In the last 29 powerless hours, I learned a lot.  I learned that I don't need constant electronic interaction to feel connected to the world.  I don't need to be plugged in to be entertained.  I learned that my daughter Katie can create a meal from anything, anytime, with any resource available to her, that my grandsons are all the entertainment I need, and that "quiet" is not the absence of sound.  It is the celebration of all the sounds we usually miss because we are so tuned in to an electronic world.  "Quiet" allows us to hear the sounds of nature that were the soundtrack to life for all the generations before us -- the wind through the trees (even angry wind, like Irene brought to us), birds, rain pounding our metal roof, chipmunks scurrying in the woods, even a dog's sigh.  The noise of our electronic world is greedy and takes first chair.  Unplugged, with technology silenced, the sounds of nature resume their primary place, if only for a few hours, or a few days. 

Katie can whip together a dinner
power or no power!
Henry, ready for dinner

Not that I'm ready to be disconnected, not at all -- I'm glad the power is back on.  I missed the connection to the outer world, but at the same time, I'm a little sad.  I liked the quiet, the simplicty, and the inner reflection of life without electricity, though I wouldn't want it to last for very long because it's too hard over too many days.  For 29 hours, I had the opportunity to experience a relfective pause, one that allows a deeper appreciation of the quiet, and the noise, of life.

Now...a long, warm shower, with gratitude.


  1. I understand perfectly everything you just described!! I do feel like we experience this WAY TOO OFTEN in Alabama...and I dread any snow...any hurricane...any tornado....every single season! But the memories we created and the experiences we had during all of these times simply brought us closer together! And then....taught us to get a generator the year before Holly's wedding!!! It's been heavenly if I do say so myself!
    So glad you and your family are safe and we are praying for those that didn't make it through so's a tough time....

  2. Great insight!

    I hope nothing more than a power outage affected you. I was lucky enough to keep my power though others in my area did not.