Powerless

The winds of Irene continue to blow hard this afternoon, and the forecast is for several more hours of tropical storm force winds to come. We’ve had remarkably little rain from this storm, since the track Irene followed brought the eye of the storm much further westward than had been originally expected. In fact, if you went by what the radar looked like, you’d think this storm was a non-event on Cape Cod.

Bu you should never, never go just by what the radar tells you:

Looks like nothing much is happening on Cape Cod, right?

Actually, what’s happening is that we’re now really on the business end of this storm’s wind. The meteorologists have been telling us all weekend that the western half of Irene would be all about rain, while the eastern half would be all about the wind.

They were right.

I suspect that not a whole lot of folks around here either heard, registered, or believed that warning, because the internets this morning were all about the “anticlimactic” Irene, or Irene the “non-event.”

And then the wind picked up, and trees started falling over, and the power went out. And then the internets didn’t have much to say about anything at all.

We lost our power for a while there, but it’s back up again for now, so I figured I’d try to post something before the lights went out again.

Because it’s almost certain that they will, given the ferocity of the wind outside my window right now, the size of this storm, and the isolated location of my quiet little side street.

Also, the lights are flickering. Flickering like mad. Right now. I wonder if I’ll be able to save this draft.

Today was supposed to be a day of writing and editing my WIP, and of seizing the momentum I’ve felt these last few days about how to whip that WIP into a new and exciting kind of shape. Instead I find myself alternately pounding the keyboard in frustration when my work is lost, and giving up altogether, closing the laptop, and just knitting quietly by the late afternoon light from the window.

It is not lost on me that I write about — and in many ways idealize — the 19th century lifestyle. And that I am forcibly living that lifestyle, in fits and starts, today, whether I want to or not.

Only a little, though. If I were really being hurtled back in time, I’d be wearing much less comfortable clothing, for one thing. And, I imagine, I’d have just a shocking amount of housework to do right now.

I don’t know why it is, but whenever I imagine myself living back then (which, let’s face it, I do all the time, and have since I was a little girl), I never imagine myself as a lady of the upper classes. Probably it’s because so many of my early fantasies were fueled by the adventures of the March family, who only barely clung to genteel poverty, if that.

So my fantasies always involve labor of some sort — canning and jarring, gardening,  sewing and knitting and mending and spinning, scrubbing and tidying and making do. Awfully New English of me, I know, but there you have it.

Naturally I don’t actually wish that I lived that kind of life today. Naturally I am deeply grateful for indoor plumbing, running water, modern medicine, the internet, cars, washing machines, dryers, and all of that.

But what I think I yearn toward is the sense that one knows how to make do without all those contraptions, and all the precarious assistance that they offer. Because when things go wrong — when the power goes out, or you lose your job, or the economy goes in the tank altogether — it’s nice to know that you know how to get by.

All that work that went into living 200 years ago represents not just endless drudgery and back-breaking servitude to the daily requirements of food, shelter, and safety.

It represents a whole raft of skills and wisdom about how to secure your own food, shelter, and safety, that I sometimes keenly feel the loss of.

So I cultivate those skills. In fits and starts. Because sometimes the power goes out, and I need to find the power in myself again, for a change.

2 Thoughts.

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