We were lucky here in Maryland to have been spared the worst of Hurricane Irene. I was feeling annoyed about having been without power for 24 hours. Almost worse than not having electricity was feeling isolated with no internet, TV, or radio. We’d just experienced a major hurricane that was barreling up the east coast and I had no way of knowing how bad it had been in other parts of the state, let alone other states. Then I finally got back online and heard from friends in other parts hit much harder who could be without power for the rest of the week. Roads are flooded, people stranded, houses washed away. My 24 hours don’t seem so bad now.
The interesting thing was that as we dealt with our darkened homes and wondered how to amuse ourselves, people in the neighborhood started coming outside. People actually talked with each other. Granted, our neighborhood is friendly in general, but we’re often so busy we don’t see each other except when there is a snowstorm and we’re shoveling out our cars. It’s too bad it takes a crisis to bring us all together.
I also noticed as I was walking the dog before bedtime how very dark it was. No streetlights, no houses lit up or porch lights on. It’s nice to actually see the night sky, especially since the night before Mother Nature’s fury was bearing down on us. But I’m not used to it being that dark. I think in the twenty-first century we take a lot for granted and don’t often think about how powerful and frightening nightfall must have been for those who didn’t have the advantage of electric light. It’s really a different kind of darkness than what we’re used to in suburbia, where the sky always has a glow from the city lights. In my book there are a number of scenes where characters are sneaking around at night in a medieval-like city where lights are few and far between. I imagine that would be a harrowing experience, especially being pursued by multiple enemies. Fortunately we can put the book down and go back to checking email and sleep in a nice soft bed, then wake up and have a hot breakfast and coffee. A lot of people around the world in this century still can’t say that, and still live in fear and darkness. Remembering that every now and then is a good thing. We are lucky indeed.