Sandy’s Introduction to A Life w/o Electricity
I just had the lights come back on and relatives move out in time for another storm. I live on the water in New Jersey and my neighborhood was hit very hard by Sandy. I wanted to share some of my observations but first, crisis is tough and many of my friends lost their homes or businesses or were displaced for a week or more. Some still do not have power. That said, there were things I really liked about having no electricity and very few things I disliked.
In no particular order:
Life with the sun. Life was physically draining and we generally went to bed with the sun and got up with the sun. The clock did not matter. We did know what meal was next and when it was time to get the kids ready for bed before the sun went down. If there were things that needed to be done we did them in the dark and made sure to do them earlier the next day.
Ritual Necessity. There were daily things that needed to be done for our little group (four adults and four children) to make it through. The house had to be warmed up in the morning. Breakfast, lunch and dinner had to be planned out in advance, based on food supplies. Generator use was planned and all cell phones needed to be plugged in or you had to wait until the next running. All flashlights had to be gathered and put in their place for use that evening. The adults went out into the wider community to gather news and contribute food, labor, clothes or comfort. We all got into a survival groove that was simple and, frankly, nice.
Togetherness. Instead of being spread all throughout the house, each in his or her own room, we were all together for meal preparation, eating, clean up and playing games afterward. Having the heat centralized around the kitchen helped, but so did the limits of electricity. We all stayed and talked or played until we were tired and went to bed. This crisis brought my family closer but also added another family to the mix, giving us a double dose of closeness. It was fine, but boundaries between “public” and “private” space does need to be reviewed.
Skills. When the children were with the adults they generally wanted to help. We made soup, learned how to crochet, hung sheets in the doorways, tried out a bicycle generator and experimented with improving daily life. It was trial and error but the learning was real, and necessary.
Food. The focus on food was really wonderful. We were lucky enough to have a reasonable store of dry goods and a fully stocked chest freezer (thanks Costco). We usually freeze juice bottles filled with water for the summer and had several in the freezer. My wife had the good sense to add two cases of bottled water into the cracks as well so our freezer was fine a week after the power went out with selective harvesting. I really did appreciate the ritual of cooking and eating though. It took so much time to cook, eat and clean that it was probably close to 50% of our day.
I’ll share more as I can. It has really been an eye opener for me even though I’ve been thinking about these things for quite some time.
Keep working at it John!