A Current Occurrence


(That title is an answer phrase just made for the daily Jumble puzzle.)

I was out of bed early for a trip to the bathroom, then back to bed, drifting off again, when Mark, getting ready for work, popped in the bedroom doorway. He set something on the stand near my head – a newspaper, I soon discovered. He gestured toward it saying quietly, “Our electric will be off today at 8 [o’clock], so if you need to dry your hair after a shower or anything, I thought maybe you’d want to get up now.”

It was 6 a.m. I would have been up in a half-hour or so, but his suggestion sent an alarm though me as I pictured every electrical unit I might want to use before I went to work. I imagined using them all in the next two hours. That was pushing it. I was up.

Just yesterday, Kathie told me a meeting of her summer class was canceled for today because the electric would be off at the school. It turned out it was our half of town. They were (how did the newspaper say it?) “[switching] the distribution primary voltage from the current 4 kw to 12 kw.” When they’d finished powering off, it sounded like we’d really be powered up.

I microwaved a cup of coffee and made toast while I waited for the hair straightener to heat. I was conscious of how many times I opened the refrigerator. I tried to think of the electrical things that were turned on that might need to be off if the power came back while we were away for the day. So much of our use of electricity is a take-for-granted one.

It was interesting to me that when the power goes out during a storm, I accept the twist of fate nature hands me as inevitable inconvenience. We usually manage for that short time it’s out. However, let it be announced in advance that my power will be deliberately turned off for eight hours, it’s amazing what emotions stir over such an infringement – my right to burn electricity! How can I be so spoiled?

Two minutes to eight: “Beep.” Our microwave again told the tale: no power.

Kathie and I gathered things we needed for the day, and, fortunately for her, she went with me to work on the other side of town where electricity flowed. Always one of morning’s slow movers, she would finish getting ready for her day while I opened the consignment shop.

In the moments before we left home, I marveled at how quiet the house was. Every little hum that usually blends into the background, that I’m not consciously aware of, was silent. It was a stark, restful quiet my ears had nearly forgotten about. I was thankful that today’s blackout reminded me of (the phrase Paul Simon made famous) the sound of silence.

It’s a beautiful sound. It led me to thinking, you know, if we can get by without power for eight hours this time, we could do this, maybe, once a week. Think of the energy we’d save! I guess that wouldn’t go over so well, now, would it?

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