In our modern-technology cluttered, over-complicated world it is very easy to overlook the basics, the elements we deem essential for living but often take for granted. One element in particular that comes to mind is electricity. We depend upon it every day to sustain the current lifestyles that we have created for ourselves, but when is the last time you stopped to think about how much we really depend upon electricity and all it provides?
Whether you credit the discovery of electricity to Benjamin Franklin and his kite experiment in 1752 or to ancient Greek philosophers like Thales of Miletus, who studied electrical properties in 600 AD, for thousands of years, electricity has excited and mystified. Once mankind found ways to harness electricity for practical purposes like light bulbs, batteries, electric motors and communication devices (telegraph, radio, telephones) it became dependent upon the conveniences it brought.
Today, one may not even give a second thought to the joys of hot water, electric heat, refrigeration and light in the darkness, but when these simple things are taken away, you quickly realize how reliant upon them you've become. When the power in our home recently went out because of a thunderstorm, what first hit me was a pang of instinctive panic mixed with a bit fear. As I made sure everyone was accounted for and scrambled to remember where I'd put the flashlight and matches, my mind raced with what to do next. Once we got a few candles lit, things relaxed a little. With the change of seasons upon us, it now gets downright chilly at night, so the next issue was warmth. Should we try to find somewhere to crash for the night or just drag the extra blankets out of storage and bundle up? Since I grew up camping every summer, I decided it wouldn't be so bad once we got our bearings.
What about the refrigerator? Should I empty out the freezer and put everything in an ice chest so the food doesn't go bad? Losing a freezer full of food isn't cheap. I decided to leave everything in there and try not to open it with hope that the power would be back on before my peas and Tater Tots thawed out too much.
Much to the dismay of my kids, our family has never really been up to speed with the latest and greatest technology like the new X-Box 360 Kinect or a flat screen television with hi-def, blue ray etc. etc. We live a pretty simple lifestyle complete with basic cable and lots of books and board games. To pass the electricity-free time, the kids and I pulled out Connect Four and a few of our other favorite games. We took our candles, sat on the floor and played games for a while. At bedtime, we laid out our blankets and pillows on the living room floor for what my husband calls a "campout." He and our son still love to do this whenever they get the chance.
The message in all of this is simple: even though our ancestors did, electricity is something we seemingly can't live without but getting too bogged down in all things new and electronic can be exciting but dangerous.
Autumn in Ohio is beautiful, fragrant and delicious so get out there and enjoy it. Please don't forget to unplug and experience the simple, uncomplicated joys nature offers us. Put on your sneakers and hike through the woods. Visit a fall festival and taste fresh apple cider or pumpkin butter or get adventurous and make your own. Just spending an afternoon visiting loved ones can tremendously re-energize the soul. Before you know it, the bitter cold weather will be upon us and we'll be forced to spend the majority of our time indoors so why not head outside and breathe some fresh air.
Incidentally, playing Scrabble by candlelight while eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches really is fun. Give it a try sometime.
Weatherman is a Trumbull County resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.