Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Of Days That Are No More

It's hard to believe
that there are some people
in Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas
that have been without power for
almost a month.

Aside from the fact that the situation
would be uncomfortably cold,
there's also the loss of perishable food,
the threat of busted pipes, and
the process of staying somewhere
that isn't "home".

I feel sorry for these people.
I know that I'd be hard to live with
if I had to toss my years supply
of frozen pizza.
And to add insult to injury-
wrap myself in a king-size
down comforter while
playing Scrabble by candle light.

But what has become of our world
when the absence of electricity
becomes a national disaster?
How do we think the pioneers survived?

Electricity wasn't even a common
household luxury until the 1880's.
Of course, they didn't have computers
and gadgets and appliances that
all feed on wires.

One spring my family got a brief chance to
live electricity-free for a few days.

They remember it as a tragedy.
I remember it as a blessing.

We bought a small one room cabin
in the woods of Missouri several years ago.
The former owners were supposed to transfer
the electric bill to us, but instead,
the power was mistakenly cut off.

We weren't aware of this fact
until we had already driven
three and a half hours to stay
the weekend there.

No electricity.

Of course, that didn't mean much
to my husband and I.
There was no running water to begin with.
There was no source of heat except a
Santa-Claus-looking fireplace.
No phone.
No TV.
This cabin was equipped with
only the essentials of living.

And that's why we loved it so much.

The deer would visit in the front yard,
the rain drummed on the tin roof like music,
and the screened porch with it's wooden swing
gave us a full view of the forest.

That particular weekend we tried to make
the best of it for the kids.
Luckily, a small fire helped keep us warm
and snacks and Vienna Sausages
kept our belly's full.

It was the entertainment that was a problem.
And the darkness.

It was just like they say-
"so dark you couldn't see your hand
in front of your face."
I tried it- and it was creepy.
We were a quarter mile from any house
and fifteen miles to the closest town.

(And Big Foot in those parts
is known as MoMo.)

Anyway, with a flickering fire
we managed to quell the darkness
and my husband began doing
shadow puppets on the wall.
The kids rolled their eyes at first-
not wanting to be part of this juvenile

But soon they joined in-
forming wavy alligators
and deformed birds
and stick men that danced
across the walls.
We laughed so hard we almost
had to walk to the outhouse
for relief.

Then we got brave and told ghost stories.
Then jokes and remember-when's.

The weekend became a huge bonding
experience that I wlll remember
the rest of my life.

The kids grew up.
We sold the cabin.

I don't think I've made a shadow puppet since.