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Blackout

by:Rachel

I find it funny how I can so easily become used to something–in this case, like a constant power supply. In the 20 months I’ve had my home in Scotland, we have never lost power–well, at least to my knowledge. I seem to have a vague recollection of waking up a morning or two on Kerr Street to a blinking alarm clock. But other than that, I haven’t even thought of the fact the our electricity supply is constant. It’s just one of the many things I take for granted.

Now, when we lived in India, I simply accepted the fact that the power supply was cut off several times a week. Yes, I’d groan if it happened while I was on the computer, but for the most part, it wasn’t a huge inconvience. Usually it would happen in the middle of the day and perhaps I’d come home from grocery-shopping with Aria in the sling and both hands lugging hefty bags of food items only to find that I would have to climb the four flights of stairs (or was it five?) to get home as the elevator was out of commission. But, I coped quite well. We had a set cupboard in which we kept the candles, matches, and flashlight and tried to remember which lights had been on if we had to retire to our beds before the electricity came back on. But, that was over two years ago and how we forget!

We lost power last night just as I was tucking the girlies into their beds. John thought it was a fuse at first, but no such luck. Aria started fussing over how dark it was, so I went to get a candle to put on their dresser. Amazingly, I was able to track down the matches without too much difficulty. And thankfully we have half a dozen candles lying around, which I promptly lit. Most of the flats on our side of the street were without electricity and random flats across the street were out too–the pattern of the blackout seemed without rhyme or reason. I took three candles into the kitchen and prepared the dishes for their face-washings, rinsing them with cold water and then improvising to wash them in hot. Our water is heated by gas, but the switch is electric so that kind of makes the gas pointless without the electricity. The stove-top is gas as well, but the built in lighter is also electric. Thankfully, having spent numerous months in India, Italy, and Mexico, I quickly remembered that all I needed to light the gas stove was a match!:-) Like I said, how easily we can forget! So, I boiled up a big pot of water, made some tea, and washed my dishes by candlelight. Perhaps they didn’t get quite as clean because lighting was dim, but I managed to get the place cleaned up and then John and I sat down on the couch to enjoy our tea and talk in the flickering light of our quiet house. The sound of the clock on the wall noisly ticked away the seconds without competition from the other appliances. The house had a peaceful air about it.

When we lost our power, I was reminded of how we are so reliant on it in our modernized lives. The neighbours from across the street were wandering around outside almost as if they were lost and didn’t know what to do with themselves. I suppose, with television and computers occupying most people’s evenings, the loss of electricity is rather disruptive. My own evenings more often than not involve the internet or a movie. But I found the loss of power a little blessing in disguise. Life seemed to slow down a bit. John and I had a good conversation over tea. And the lingering smell of candles added a delightful aroma to the air.

All the same, it was reassuring that the electricity came back on after two false hopes just before we went to bed… it wouldn’t do for my whole freezer-full of food to thaw!

One Response to “Blackout”

  1. Jayne
    September 26th, 2008 18:40
    1

    How quickly we forget. I had a great Indian meal last night at Smita & Kumar”s house.

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