living without electricity...2.

the storm came saturday night.  heavy wet snow on a cold fall night falling on leaf-laden trees.  the trees could not stand the weight-- they went down and took the power lines with them.  sunday morning the town was largely impassable by car.  tree branches and some whole trees-- roots pulled out of the ground-- were across the roads, wrapped in power lines.  no one downtown had power.  all of the shops were closed-- people wandered around on the sunny morning looking for coffee and checking out the damage.

at first, none of the shops were open.  without power we had no heat, no lights, but also no phones, no internet, no ability to process credit or debit cards through our handy machines, no ability to open our cash registers.  my shop was relatively warm-- it was a warm sunny morning and the sun was streaming in my windows.  i debated opening.  i went for early tea at a friend's house (she had a camp stove on her deck!) as i thought about what to do.  i heard that 'hastings'-- our stationary store which has been open every day for more than a hundred years-- was open-- dark, no power, but open.   i decided that people had more important things to think about on this morning than housewares-- so we did not open.

not that long ago none of us had electricity.  shops had gas lights, or lanterns, or no lights at all.  shopkeepers did a lot more math in their heads, or on paper.  people carried a lot more cash-- or checks, or had accounts at local businesses so that they were able to buy what they needed.  i thought about my little town a hundred years ago and decided that there probably wasn't electricity in all these shops then-- and i imagined what a morning like this one-- a beautiful, sunny morning after a huge storm-- would have been like then.

a hundred years ago all those people out, wandering through town and wondering at the devastation, would have been stopping in my shop-- i would have been serving coffee that i had made on my wood-burning cookstove in the back of the shop.  we would exchange news of which roads were impassable, which houses had sustained the most damage, which families would need the most help.  someone might well have picked up the sheets they had ordered the month before.   business and life would have continued much as usual-- with some extra time and effort put towards moving tree branches and cutting up wood-- by hand, of course, or with the help of horses or mules.

of course i came through all of this thinking that we are too dependent on all this power...


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