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Calm After the Storm: Post Post-Tropical Storm Arthur

Oil LampPost-tropical storm Arthur stopped by last week for a visit and knocked the power in my hometown of Fredericton, NB out for over a week.  My husband and I went for just over 6 days without power, but there are still some people without power 11 days later.  These people are the exception as NB Power and other power companies who have come to help have worked really hard to get us all back on the grid.

This week without power has been an interesting experience, and has made me think about life in a different way.  I would like to start by saying that my husband and I are both in good health, our only child (my husband’s daughter) is 21 and maintains her own residence, my mother is in good health, and my father-in-law lives in assisted living.  I mention all of this because it means that Kim and I only had to look after and entertain ourselves for the week.  Had we been dealing with serious health issues or concerns for our parents, I am sure that my experience of the week would have been completely different.

Our power went out on Saturday the 5th, and our phone and cell service were out on Sunday morning.  We headed into town on Sunday and found that the world was crazy.  There was a run on gas and very few businesses had power.  After having some breakfast and using the phone in town (I had cell service there), we turned back home to our sanctuary.  I cancelled all of my plans for Monday to give the world a chance to return to normal again.

We are generally well prepared for emergencies.  We have about 12 litres of water on hand at all times.  Since we live in the country on a well system, when the power is out, we don’t have access to water, so like to be prepared.  Kim also had the presence of mind to put out our mop buckets to collect rainwater for toilet flushing.  We have batteries, flashlights, an oil lamp, a camp stove, a battery-operated radio, and really, pretty much everything we needed.  We are prepared for a few days without power, but weren’t expecting a week.

I am a modern person.  I own a computer, laptop, and iPhone.  I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and maintain a website and blog.  During a regular week, I spend a lot of time online.  During the week that our power was out, I could only access the internet when I was in town, so not on a daily basis.  My iPhone remained turned off until I went to town, and I spent very little time on my computer.  The desktop was off limits for obvious reasons, but I purposely also spent very little time on my laptop.  It was lovely!  I was amazed at how much more time there was in every day when I wasn’t spending time on-line or watching movies.  I had time to exercise, practice both the cello and the violin, eat leisurely meals, play card games with my husband, do some housework (not much, I admit), knit, read, have an afternoon nap and get a good night’s rest.  It was truly incredible how much time seemed to appear out of nowhere!  There was no stress, no rush, and lots of time to accomplish everything that I wanted!  I don’t remember the last time I felt like there was enough time in the day and week!

I also have to admit that I loved the silence: the absolute silence of a house without power.  There is usually sound all around you…  The fridge, the freezer, the modem for the computer…  all of the things that draw power all the time.  Without power there was silence!  I also love the light thrown by an oil lamp.  Once the evening came upon us, Kim and I would light an oil lamp and spend time in the kitchen playing cards, preparing our thawing fruit for liqueur making, or just talking.  The light from an oil lamp is much nicer and softer than that provided by light bulbs.   I loved the sounds of the birds outside, and loved seeing the dance of the fireflies every night.  There are fields around our house, and at this time of year they are filled with fireflies every night.  Without any light leaking out of our house, it was quite a show!

I did go to town several times during the week, so did check my e-mail and visit Facebook at those times, so I did not go a full week with no contact, however, I did not feel beholden to my technology.  I did attend scheduled rehearsals, so did not take a week off completely from all of my commitments.

Our power came back on during the morning of July 11th.  I was actually a little bit sad when the power returned.  This signaled a return to the computer, internet, and movies.  I had enjoyed the time without power so much that I was sad to see that time pass.  I am hoping, however, to be able to change my use of the computer and internet so that I don’t feel like all of my time is sucked up by the screen.  I know that in order to maintain my business it is not actually possible for me to stay off the computer altogether, but I would love to change my habits so that I feel like I still have time for the other things I would like to do.   I’ll let you know how that works out for me!

photo credit: sarahgb(theoriginal) via photopin cc

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