I think Thanksgiving 2012 was a special one for many of us in the Eastern U.S. This year, I was thankful just to have electricity–light, heat, refrigeration, “land-line” phone service, television and Internet access! And I got off a lot easier than many people. The office where I work happened to be in an area that never lost power, so on weekdays I could go there to get warm, recharge my cell phone and find out what was going on in the world (along with doing some actual work).
I confess, I am a very poor sport about being too cold. Having an older house with minimal second-floor insulation, I slept the first three nights in a turtleneck, sweats, socks and a full-length down coat (hood up), UNDER a blanket and a synthetic-down comforter. Even then, my face was freezing! At about that point, half of my town got power back…but not my half. A work colleague who lives nearby offered to let me spend nights in the guest room of her condo, and I gratefully accepted. By Day 5, my end of town also got power and I was able to move home.
Those first three days seemed so endless, though, that I can only imagine the suffering of other people who were without power for weeks–and of the few who still may be “out.”
A Wiccan friend of mine told people during the outage, “I still have my Power–I just don’t have electricity.” That’s an excellent attitude, and it probably helps that she lives very “low on the grid,” anyhow, without gadgets the rest of us take for granted. But I do think the outages made a lot of us feel “powerless” in a way that extended beyond a lack of electricity. Human beings have had central heating, telephone service, electric lighting and gas-powered automobiles for a very short span of history. (We won’t even get into the World Wide Web, personal computers and smart phones!) Lighting my gas stovetop with a match and trying to cook dinner with a flashlight tucked under my arm, I could only marvel at how much effort people of the past must have gone through each day just to survive in the dead of winter and other inhospitable situations. It’s no wonder that only the very privileged had the spare time or energy to create works of art or to study science, philosophy, etc. Most folks were just trying to grow their crops, cook their meals, weave and sew their own clothing and stay warm! I think we lose sight of that today, when even the poor purchase these goods and services from outside sources–and feel helpless when the supply is suddenly cut off.
So I’m thankful not only to have my modern-day comforts back again, but to have come away with a new appreciation of what our ancestors endured and overcame without all of these conveniences. What insights did you gain from your experiences during the hurricane Sandy power outages?