Friday, August 13, 2021


In the middle of my daughter’s Zoom work day up north in our Lake Michigan retreat, the power went out. Ever resourceful, I suggested we go into town in hopes that the power outage hadn’t reached there. It hadn’t. So she got to work in the library, the kids were delighted to take out ten books and when they got restless, we went to the ice cream shop with the promise that this was their treat for the day— no more sweets after dinner. I dropped in the hardware store to buy a paddleball set and we played for a while longer in the park and returned to the cottage, certain that the power would be back on after our three-hour absence.


It wasn’t. And our neighbor said she heard it wouldn’t be restored for four more days. She had a generator and generously offered her refrigerator if needed, but the news was disconcerting. Luckily, it was the beginning of a work break for my daughter—exactly four days!— but we began to take stock of the challenges and the solutions. 


There was the food in the refrigerator and the absence of drinking water. Solved by another trip to town to get four gallon water jugs, ice for the cooler and putting some of the perishables in the freezer, which would stay cold longer. Without electricity, the toilets don’t flush. No problem. There’s the woods. The shower wouldn’t work. But there’s the lake. The stove wouldn’t work. Leftover cold soup, sandwiches and quesadillas on the propane grill work fine. No internet, no phone service— no problem. The world will go on without us answering the phone or e-mails. We couldn’t finish the E.T. movie we had started to watch with the kids. Who cares? We got books! The old-fashioned kind with covers and paper-pages. The electric piano won’t play. But then there’s the guitar. As for light, we have candles and in the morning, the sun would return. 


And so we passed a delightful evening singing by candlelight, talking and joking, reading a bit by flashlight. My wife went next door to our other neighbor and rescued the ice cream in her freezer (she was away for the night) and told the kids we HAD to eat it. Two ice cream cones in one day!! This might give them ideas to cut the power lines for future treats. 

And then in the middle of the night, I was awakened by lights on and the bathroom sink running. The power was back 3½ days ahead of schedule. Naturally, it makes things easier and makes publishing this possible, but the way things are going, we all would do well to practice for live without— or with less—electricity. And discover that it’s not only possible, but sometimes more delightful.  


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