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Power outage

There’s nothing like a decent power outage to remind us how reliant we all are on electricity these days. As we are reminded from time to time, it’s only after the loss of something, a service or an object, that we realise how much significance it plays in our lives.

We’ve had a run of wild weather in the form of storms with strong winds over the past few days (albeit the 40 mm of rain was very welcome). Significant parts of the region suffered power cuts of various durations. In our case the power was off for almost exactly 24 hours – from 5pm yesterday, to 5pm this evening.

Reading by candlelight is a wonderful reminder that in days gone by, this was the only light source that people had. We don’t give electric lighting a moment’s thought – until we don’t have it.

Our cooking is done with a gas cook-top so thankfully the evening meal and breakfast were OK. Again, in days bygone cooking would have been done exclusively on an open fire, or on a wood-fueled fire. Thanks to electricity I don’t have to chop wood every day just to be able to cook.

Then there’s the absence of on-tap water. Living in a rural area, we collect rainwater from our roof and store it in tanks outside the house. Normally we just turn on a tap and water flows. Until there’s no electricity to power the pump. This left us with no water to drink, or to wash dishes with, or to wash ourselves with. or to flush the toilet with. In response to this situation I had to use a ladder to reach the top of a water tank, drop a bucket on a rope into the tank, haul the filled bucket out of the tank, and then lower the bucket to the ground. Buckets of water are then moved around the house to where the water is needed. Thankfully the weather is warm enough to not need to heat the water before it’s used for washing.

Again, though, it’s a reminder that task of fetching and carrying water is one that we don’t have to think about under normal circumstances (when there’s electricity about).

And then there’s the means by which we store perishable foodstuffs. The ‘fridge and the freezer. We don’t worry too much if the power is off for the “usualâ€? 2 to 4 hours but a 24 hours power outage is just too long for these devices to be able to cope given that the ambient temperature outside rose to 34 degC (93 degF) today. We now face the task of composting, recycling or disposing of those items of food that can’t be salvaged. Meat and dairy products will have to be replaced (one carton of milk in the ‘fridge was well on its way to turning into a cheese-like substance).

So what does all of the above have to do with the “lookANDseeâ€? photoblog? In this era of digital photography all my photographs are stored on a PC which requires power to run it. (I’m typing this on a laptop which has batteries, but even they need power to recharge them after 3 or so hours). Our internet link is supplied via a 2-way satellite service, so no network connection when there’s no power. Our telephone service runs over a microwave radio link, so no dialup modem when there’s no power.

Such is rural life – and I wouldn’t swap it for anything!

The storm season is early this year. Hopefully it will also finish early rather than running longer than normal.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible 🙂

One Comment

  1. Back in 1998 there was the Great Ice Storm here in New York ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998_Ice_Storm ). We were without power for a week, and we came to many of the same conclusions as you have. We don’t appreciate the benefits of electricity until they’re gone. Just a few decades ago, our ancestors had to work so much harder just to get the basics that we take for granted!

    On the flip side of the coin, we enjoyed spending time together as a family, without the intrusion of television or computers. We played games and talked and read. I always look back very fondly on that week without power.

    We’re heading into winter now, so it’s nice to see the spring/early summer pictures you’ve been posting!

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