Settlers by Candlelight

All of Southern Vermont had a huge power outage starting a little after 4 pm yesterday. I was right in the middle of an e-mail when all went black. I thought to myself, “Somebody as the power station is about to get fired.” With nothing much to do at the Art Center, I went home and picked up a couch with my father-in-law. By the time we got it in the house it was so dim that we couldn’t really tell how it looked in the living room. As the night progressed and the local energy company promised to have everything up and running by midnight, we dug up everything that could burn safely and began setting up our favorite game: The Settlers of Catan, supplemented by the expansion set: The Seafarers of Catan.

We had about 10 candles around the table and it was still really dim. I could not believe that people used to live without electricity. At night it must have been so unbelievably dark, even in homes. We thought of poor Abraham Lincoln working so studiously through every book he could get his paws on, leafing through page after page while squinting his weary and worn eyes by a solitary flame.

Life has changed immeasurably thanks to electricity. I thought of my friend in a start up company who is expected to put in 80 hours a week . . . that would not be possible without electricity. I thought of our computers that sat dormant without electrcity. They were reduced to ugly monstrocities, no longer useful for communication or information. I thought about my habit of reading in bed before falling asleep . . . not an option.

With most of the clocks run by electricity, or at least needing light to be seen, we had no concept of time and realized how dependent we are on clocks. In addition, I became very aware of how difficult other people must have it around the world. So many depend on water pumps or filters that use electricity. While others have fragile sources of electricity that go out frequently. And then there’s Israel’s bullying of the people in the Gaza strip in the midst of cease fire offers, knocking out the power there with artillery.

After last night we plan to buy a lantern or some kind of oil lamp that we can use in the future. In addition, we plan on getting some kind of gas heater that can be turned on if we lose our power in the winter.