By candlelight we sat together on the king-sized bed as a family engaged in something we rarely do in our home or our nation. With the power out and our bellies full of grocery store deli food, my partner, children, and a few of our cats, sat or wriggled about as I read a short story about a clever feline who saved a town. My partner, daughter, and I each selected a book we thought appropriate and let the toddler decided which of the three to read from.
Town Cats by Lloyd Alexander, Dada's selection. My daughter groaned because she wanted Percy Jackson.
I read the first story, candles flickering, and little fingers playing with the corners of the pages. I held the hand light over the book, and smiled when my daughter laughed at the funny parts. I waited patiently each time my son interrupted with his Rarity plushie or demands the cat move out of his way.
Once the story ended and the call to give the little one milk came from his little lips, we ran back to our bed and snuggled until he fell to sleep. When I stood up to head back to my partner's room to talk, I paused in the hall and felt how clean and pure the sensation to be in the house in near dark with no electric noises on. The hum of the refrigerator. The almost imperceptible buzz of the computers and monitors, my partner's clock radio droning on about news or playing jazz, the J-Pop coming through my daughter's earbuds another room away.
Their absence left me feeling calm, whole, at peace.
We live in the woods and outages happen often, but usually in winter, when we can't appreciate the stillness because we're working hard to stay warm and the additional layers are uncomfortable.
But the outages in warm months are rare and beautiful. I seem to be the only one in the house who takes pleasure in them. I don't mind being temporarily deprived of the stove or the computer, because when we don't have these constant distractions and electronic noises that only I notice, we're a kinder family, and we do more to connect.
It's not a new sentiment: to feel joy when relieved of our technological burdens. To escape into nature. But it was Saturday night, as I lay in bed, and a cool breeze brought in the honeysuckle and muddled plum fragrance of summer's farewell....