Writing, and living, in the dark


This past week has been a week of challenges.
A chilly rain was falling when we went to bed on Wednesday night. I had tried to place a phone call earlier that evening and realized our phones were out.
A few hours later, I awoke to the realization that our electricity was out. I decided to go back to sleep, figuring that the power would be back on by the time we needed to get up and start our day. Boy, was I ever wrong!
We are still without power as I write this, four days later. It seems more like a month.
The rain turned in to ice, and a very thick coating of ice throughout this area began snapping trees, breaking power poles and power lines. It quickly became a very dangerous situation.
As that first day passed in to night, the temperatures dropped to a dangerous low. We felt very lucky to have a fire going in the fireplace.
Dad’s days. I remember my dad’s tales about the very early childhood memories he had of life before electricity came to his home.
“My mom would take me up the big staircase to my bed with a lantern swinging in her hand. Sometimes she would even let me carry the lantern. She would tuck me in to bed, then pick that lantern up and head back out to the big open hallway. When she walked out of my bedroom and went back down those stairs, you simply could not believe how dark it was!”
Not necessary. He remembered his maternal grandfather saying he didn’t think electricity was necessary. He took a very strong stand on this matter, saying they could get along better without it.
It is hard for me to imagine that way of thinking, but I would have given almost anything during this week to have all the setups that he had to make his home and farm work so well without the power of electricity.
I remember the worry of losing power when I was still a kid on the dairy farm. During one particularly ferocious and blinding blizzard, I remember riding the tractor to the dairy barn one very cold, windy morning with my dad. He worried about not only getting the cows milked, but providing them with adequate water.
It was during that stretch of a very bleak week that he purchased a generator, not so much for our comfort, but for the survival of our herd of Holsteins.
We made it through, though the work was much harder than it already was on a typical day.
Challenges. I am being reminded of that as I watch my kids and their friends wondering when they will have the chance to take a long, hot shower, to watch TV again, to talk endlessly on the phone.
I am not thinking so much about what we cannot do, as I am thinking how lucky we are to not have things that we simply must do, in spite of the challenges of no electricity.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.