Tuesday, November 2, 2010


It’s a funny feeling when you arrive home in the dark, flip the switch in the kitchen … and nothing happens. You flip the switch again, although you know perfectly well that’s not how a switch works. Then everything changes—inside your head.

The power is out.

You pull the flashlight from the drawer, dig some candles out of the closet, find the matches (same drawer) and begin to illuminate the place. Getting a little classier, you find some taller bee’s-wax candles, put them in candleholders. Suddenly it occurs to you that a mirror might be useful, though none are near at hand.

Your wife arrives home from yoga to find the living room bathed in candlelight. How enchanting! You’re such a dear.

The next morning, you look out the bedroom window to see that the cedar tree which has shielded the yard for thirty years is taking a siesta on the neighbor’s garage. The temperature hasn’t dropped much yet—it stands at 62 degrees—but it will.

The computer is down (Duh!). It’s impossible to get to your files, and you spend the day sitting beside the super-efficient Jøtul stove (a phrase which may not mean much to the younger generation) reading a Spanish novel—The Wrong Blood by Manuel de Lope. No music to listen to. Just the howl of the wind and the occasional snap of a wind-driven branch against the sliding doors that open out to the deck.

By noon you’ve moved most of the food in the fridge into coolers that are sitting just outside that door. The spanikopita and pot pies in the freezer will get eaten tonight. Frozen cranberries? Might as well toss them, don’t you think? There are now several power cords running across the street from neighbor to neighbor—they have power over on that side-although you haven’t been included in any such arrangement. Well, you never asked.

A brief visit to the library with the laptop to check for urgent emails proves fruitless. (Let's face it--you're bored. You never get urgent emails.) Along the way you notice that you feel like a cripple when you’re at home, but everything’s suddenly fine the minute you leave the house. Your neighbor stops by at dusk to find out if your power is still out. His house is down to 40 degrees, he says.

Later that night, returning home from a heated racquetball match, you ponder the logistics of taking a shower in the dark. (Important meeting tommorrow, don't you know?) Will the water still be hot? But the lights at the end of the block are on, your next-door neighbor’s light is on … your lights are on!

Now what are we going to do about that tree?

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