When the Lights Went Out

I’m a big fan of electricity. But every now and then, being forced to get along without it does me a world of good.

When thunderstorms rolled through our neck of the woods at dusk a couple of weeks ago, I was working on a newspaper column. Such work generally goes in this order: decide on a topic, mull it over in my head, “freewrite” it with pen and paper, and then type it into a word document on my computer. Unfortunately, I was at the typing stage. And because my computer has a weak battery, it has to be plugged in to function.

There was nothing to do but put the column aside until the power came back on.

Yeah…but how long was that going to be? I could search for answers on my phone, but it was almost out of juice and I didn’t want to use up what little was left. I considered plugging the phone into my car charger and running the motor for a few minutes but I sure didn’t want to do that with the garage door closed. I’m no scientist but I do know about carbon monoxide. Obviously, I couldn’t open the garage door with the electric opener, but maybe I could pull the handy-dandy emergency cord and then push the door up manually and back the car out. But the cord is directly above my car and I’m not tall enough to reach it unless I stand in the cargo area and lunge for it, which I couldn’t do because I have a hinged door rather than a tailgate and I was parked too close to the garage door to swing the cargo door open.

So much for that.

Darkness was falling fast and I decided I better come up with a source of light so I could find my way around the house. The few candles I have are in jars and don’t put out a whole lot of light and, besides, I’ve lately become overly sensitive to fragrance and the idea of smelling fake gardenia blossoms or apple cinnamon muffins didn’t appeal to me. Just when I decided I had no other choice, I remembered the battery-powered camping lantern squirreled away on a closet shelf. But when had I last used it? Several years ago, for sure. I dragged a stepstool to the closet and got the lantern down. Alas. It was as dead as Julius Caesar.

By now, my throat was parched from scurrying around so I decided I’d fix myself some iced tea and go sit on the back porch in the dark and watch the storm roll in. I pressed my glass against the ice dispenser on the freezer door but, of course, nothing came out. I didn’t want to open the door and set things to thawing and I didn’t see any sense in pawing around in the dark refrigerator for the jug of tea because you can’t call it iced tea if it doesn’t have ice in it, so I just filled my glass with water from the tap and went outside.

What a show I witnessed! Lightning flashed and thunder boomed on and on and on and the wind howled and the rain fell so hard the gutters couldn’t hold it. I pushed my chair back and leaned my head against the wall and Kamala moved as close to me as she could and rested her snout on my knee. I sang the chorus of Bob Marley’s “Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright” over and over and scratched between her ears and she closed her eyes and I closed mine and by the time we woke up the storm had moved on and the power was restored.

So I plugged in my phone and then sat down at the computer, grateful that—every now and then–a column falls right into my lap.

(August 20, 2022)