Wednesday, October 27, 2010

These Moments

Every time the power goes out, we vow to be more prepared next time: stock up a box with canned goods, candles, batteries and flashlights, a jug of water, etc. We don't own a generator, but luckily, our woodstove saves us every time. I've cooked spaghetti, perogies and sausage, pancakes, popcorn, and eggs and bacon on it. When I do use it, I ask myself why I don't use it all winter, whether the power is out or not. I relish the simplicity of it all, and often have a twinge of regret when the Hydro One workers fix the problem and the lights flicker back on.

With payday 3 days away, our cupboards are getting bare, so it was canned baked beans on toast, popcorn, and carrot sticks for dinner. The kids loved it. We had a fairy guest for dinner who kept stealing Violet's juice when her head was turned, and tickling Jude's toes under the table. We had more fun than we've had in awhile at the dinner table.

Warming their post-bath-buns by the woodstove.

Those lips!

Jude and Margot were enthralled with the LCD lantern I bought to bring on my retreat.

Violet blew at the candle to make it look like "spiwits dancing".

Our beloved beeswax candles, sharing their clean, warm light.

...and Jude's expression when the power came back on.

Because the power flashed off and on all afternoon and evening, we had to adapt quickly; the older ones were in the bath when the lights flickered out, and it happened again during storytime. I spontaneously invited Jude and Violet outside to look at the stars without any residual light from nearby villages and houses. They oohed at the Milky Way, and we talked about constellations, satellites, planets, and stars.

It all kind of makes me want to declare one night a week "Off Grid Night". The quiet simplicity of it all is compelling. This marks our first (and certainly not last) power-outage of the Long Dark (fall-winter). Aside from the fact that our water doesn't work (pump is powered by electricity, of course) and the possiblity of food-spoilage if the outage lasts, I find myself kind of looking forward to more evenings like this one, where our energy is taken up by the most primitive of tasks: keeping warm, and feeding our family.

It feels like a retreat from the busy, noisy conveniences of modern life: we leave the dishes, sit close together near the woodstove, and make up silly stories and games. I can't help but imagine that these nights will be among my children's fondest memories.

The wind is fierce; I'd better post this now before my screen goes dark once again. Good night, all.


  1. I swear you're reading my mind. We are planning to do exactly grid night. We were thinking on Thursdays. My husband wants to do an entire weekend off grid to find the holes in our emergency preparedness plan but I don't think I'm ready for that. Our first off grid night is scheduled for tomorrow. I'll most likely be blogging about it....we'll see how it goes!

    Stephanie :)

  2. One of my favorite photos was taken during a power outage:

    It also made us think about an "off-grid night". We have frequent--mostly brief--power outages here. I think my husband would be more resistant than my kids, who look at everything out of the normal as an adventure...

  3. Our kids love it when we do nights like this. They will ask- "can we have a night where everything is off and we cook on the woodstove and light candles??" Having the power out is better for the actual lack of HUM in the house, but planning a night is valuable and better than not doing it all.
    Sounds like a fun time! Your photos are gorgeous as usual.

  4. Oh how I'd love to have a wood cookstove. But my kitchen barely accommodates my gas stove. Luckily we have a generator (for the barn mostly) and we are rarely without power. I need to work on preparedness though, because I always forget about the water. Being raised in town, no power didn't mean no water, it only meant no hot water. I realized that when the pump broke a while ago.

    I never thought of taking Ella out to look at the stars, but that's a great idea. With our yard light, we don't see as many stars as we could.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about being slightly disappointed when the power returns! I love the excuse to be "off the grid" for a bit. I really don't know that I could convince The Big Guy to do it just for fun, but maybe the next time he's away... For the most part I always feel pretty prepared for our power outages. We did have one kind of scary one where the temps were in the -40's, and I was NOT disappointed to see the power return by early evening. For our own piece of mind, we just bought a generator, so now we're good to go!! Great pics, by the way!!

  6. oh when we just recently lived off grid for over two years in a mobile home - those were truly some of the best days for us as a family. When darkness fell and all we had was lanterns for lights and the woodstove for heat, we all gathered together.
    We now are limiting the number of electric lights in our rustic cottage so that once it is dark we use a lantern for the dining room table and there is just one light in the living room. The darker light helps to keep our bodies more in tune with the seasonal light changes, I think it is healthier.
    Glad you got to enjoy that night! Cute pictures.
    Warm wishes, Tonya


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