Dreaming of a power outage that lasts forever
Each winter, storms knock out the electricity to my home. I live in the country, over hills and past muddy pastures and brown meadows. Snow and ice grip the trees, pulling them past the breaking point, and the lights flicker and die.
The first thing I notice is the quiet. The hum of the refrigerator, the ticking of the hot water heater, the barely perceptible vibration of the electrical system itself. The sounds drop away. That is how I awoke this February morning; to silence, just the murmur of a million wet snowflakes settling onto the trees, the grass, the cabin roof.
As a child, I craved power outages. School canceled, all obligations swept aside — an excuse to bypass the siren song of television, jobs, routine, and to instead place candles on the table and sit together around the flickering light. All this, of course, after the obligatory snowball fight.
Luck and privilege underlie my experience; the luck of living in a temperate climate, where a small fire and sweatshirt keep us warm inside; the privilege of a family with just enough money to relax and enjoy power outages despite not being able to work.
Power outages are still magical times for me. Now, grown, I live far enough away from the city that outages can last many days. We sit around the wood stove after a day of chores, cooking dinner slowly on the stovetop, snow melting in a pot for tea. Nothing is fast. There is no rush, and nowhere to go, and nothing to be done beyond: talk, read, cook, wash dishes in a tub with fire-warmed water. It is a balm to a soul chafed by the demands of modernity — speed, productivity, constant connectivity.
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