Our power went out this morning, which came as a real surprise. We live in the country, with all the power lines strung from pole to pole rather than being buried safely underground, so we often lose the power in the winter, what with wind storms, freezing rain, or the occasional dump of wet snow.
But just this week I emptied the jugs of drinking water on the counter that had been sitting there since the last wind storm, thinking we'd got off easily this winter: one very brief power outage, and we weren't even home when it happened. Somehow, semi-subconsciously, I thought the power failure season was done.
According to BC Hydro the reason for this outage was a tree down across a power line. I'm wondering if it wasn't BC Hydro itself that was responsible: they've been replacing a number of the power poles in the neighbourhood, and at the same time taking down a whole bunch of the trees that would be most likely to take out a line if they fell. Maybe a tree fell in a different direction than planned, or the crew lost control of a big branch as it came down.
In any case, we spent the morning in the dark. Kim went off to do some errands, so I was on my own - just me, my day's plans thrown awry because they all required electricity, looking for things to do in the murky half-light of a cloudy morning. I found a few jobs I could do (really exciting things like filing), but mostly what I discovered was the quiet.
No radio in the background. No hum of the fridge or whoosh of the dishwasher. No click of fingers on a computer keyboard. No phone ringing. Just deep, heavy, calming quiet. As I sorted through bills and bank statements I became aware of the sound of my own breathing and I was amazed at how noteworthy that was. My breath travels around with me every day - why don't I notice its sound more often? Then Frankie came into the room in search of a comfortable spot to snooze, and the sound of his snoring joined my breath in a companionable, peaceful counterpoint.
How did my life get so noisy? Noise was something I took for granted in my old life, but in my new, improved Mucky Boots life I thought I had a different kind of balance. But somehow the background chatter and hum has snuck up and overtaken the quiet again, so that the sound of my own breath comes as a surprise.
And maybe it's more than just noise. Maybe all that background electromagnetic radiation from computers and clock radios and wireless modems and cordless phones creates an inaudible sort of racket that I don't notice until the power goes out and everything goes dark. Which might help explain how simple and peaceful and calm things felt around here this morning.
I'm beginning to cast a new eye on the main breaker switch on our fuse box. Maybe some homemade power outages are in order.