Monday, February 1, 2010

Icy Trees and Electricity

One of the prettiest things in the world is trees covered with ice in the sunshine. One of the scariest things in the world is seeing one of those trees collapse under the weight of that ice. One of the most depressing things in the world is seeing that tree covered in ice fall across a power line in your back yard. This didn't happen to me, not yet. With all the wet weather we had this fall, and all the felling of trees that was done in my yard this fall, one of the pines got a little over-anxious and decided to try to save Justin the hassle of cutting him down and is now leaning, propped up by two other trees, towards the power lines, and I'm waiting, breath bated every time the wind blows for the lights to go out and the TV to go off and the refrigerator to quit refrigerating, allowing all of our condiments that fill it to go bad and force me to start a new condiment collection (who wants to spend four dollars on new salad dressing that you may hate?).
I've never in my life lived in a place where, when the electricity goes out, there is the possibility of it not coming on again for days. In my experience we just soldier through an hour or two of balancing a flashlight on end to give you enough light to search for more batteries to replace the dying ones and looking for all those half-burnt candles that you may or may not have thrown away, then the lights are back on. Here the hours drag into days and you finally go out and buy batteries and candles and board games and books. At first you wonder how anyone ever survived without light and artificial heat. By the end of the first day you think it might be kind of romantic to read a book in the candlelight. A fire seems like the only way to truly get warm. Your interest in the classics you always knew you should read but never did is awakened. By the end of day two you're a 19th century intellectual. You're an 18th century settler, thinking of creative ways to cook potatoes in the fireplace and wondering how to make cornmeal mush (isn't that what they ate?). By the end of day three you're making deals with God about how you're never going to take electricity for granted again and you're pretty much convinced that it went out in the first place just to teach you a lesson about thankfulness. You promise to read more, to turn out lights when you leave a room, to take showers instead of baths to save the hot water, and to not buy different salad dressing every time you go to the store, it's too risky and why do you have to have so much salad dressing anyway? Who in this house eats salad?
Then the electricity comes back on and you can't wait to see what's happening on American Idol. Ayn Rand gets placed right back on the bedside table where she started, and a hot bath sounds so nice who cares about saving water? Well, I'm writing this to say, preemptively, that I'm so thankful for electricity. I'd love to be the kind of person who never watches TV, who could live in a house where the thermostat stays on 68 degrees, who can cook in actual fire, and who reads by candlelight every night before going to bed, but I'm just not. I do love the way winter looks from inside my warm house, and I do love driving to work in the early morning looking at the trees covered in ice shining in the sun, but I also love leaving a hall light on at night so I don't stub my toes getting something cold to drink in the middle of the night. So, thanks, God for icy trees in sunshine, and the gravity defiance going on in the back yard that is allowing my electricity to stay on.

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