Sunday, March 27, 2011
The freezer in the laundry room makes a mechanical kind of gurgle and hum. The ice-maker in the kitchen drops a few cubes and then refills its water supply. A log in the wood stove settles into the coals. These ambient sounds are mostly ignored in the course of a normal day, but when the power goes out as it did yesterday, there are few to no house sounds at all. There is little traffic on our road, and so few planes pass over, it is cause to look up. Months can go by without hearing a police, fire, or ambulance siren. Up here, when the power goes out, it isn't just quiet...it's silent. Five hours of silence on a grey, wintry day is lonely. Everything I could think of to fill the time (and one never knows how long that time will be) required electricity. Can't bake bread, can't vacuum the carpet, can't cook anything that needs water, can't use the computer, and for once I'd already dusted. Hmmm. When everything stopped a little after noon, I was starting the process of making aioli and had just peeled and crushed twelve cloves of garlic; not the best time to be without water to wash up. This was going to be a quick recipe with the food processor before delivering goat cheese to a first-time customer and then going to the feed store. I'm sure I made a lasting impression, reeking of garlic as I was. As darkness approached, popcorn seemed to be the best choice for dinner. It didn't need water, and wouldn't require lengthy cooking by candle light. The propane stove top functions during an outage as long as I have matches to fire it up, as the electric starter, of course, doesn't work. Dark evenings stretch out forever, and I was so grateful when the beeps and growls of the appliances announced Power On! at five-thirty.