Last night we lost power. It was pretty amazing. First the lights dimmed, then they shut off completely. I am always amazed how dark it really is without any lights, no digital clocks glowing, street lamps shining from outside. And so quiet; no hum of the several computers in our home or of our Tivos. So still. It reminds me why people went to sleep earlier before electricity and why they lived their lives with the sun as their clock.
The truly surprising thing is that just moments before we were having a traditional modern evening in; the kids were playing with the electric playset (battery operated), we were munching on pizza (brought home frozen) and tossing our paper plates into the trash. It was a lively group as my father and his family were in town; that put us at 5 children ranging from 5 months to 7 years old and 4 adults. And when the lights finally turned off there were no cries or screaming. Everyone was just really quiet and still. I did a mental checklist of where the candles and flashlights were in the house and my husband slowly made his way to the flashlight just as the lights came on.
We knew it would happen again as the Santa Ana winds were high and this is quite normal for our Foothill area. We scrambled to put new batteries in the flashlights and find the dust covered candles from our pre-baby days. Eventually the power went out for good. Fortunately we were well prepared with our flashlights, candles and even a wind up flashlight. I believe we had a collection of 7 flashlights which was plenty for our small home.
As we tucked the kids into bed without baths and I settled on an alternative night time activity we reminisced about our childhood. My husband and I both grew up in this area. This was a common occurrence for us and the main reason I have a gas powered stove 'just in case'. We found the extra blankets in case the heat never came back on and we remembered to turn off all the lights in case they came on again in the middle of the night. I remember one year being unpleasantly woken up at 4 am with all the lights blaring in the house and the television on. Another year the electricity had been out half the day and it was pretty cold and VERY windy. My mother made a bed on the floor of her bedroom with all the big squishy comforters in the house and that's where my sister and I slept all night.
My kids took our outage in stride. They thought it was pretty nifty, but they still settled down to sleep in their own beds. Just as I picked up a book (instead of watching tv or surfing the internet) the electric noise started up. We realized we had forgotten to turn off a few lights and we went about fixing clocks and gathering flashlights. Our foray into the pioneer days ended just 90 minutes after it had begun. I know that is a testament to our fantastic utility company. But I was still sad to re-enter our modern world. But not so sad that I missed the evening news.