Friday’s Weekend Column
No Alectrics

by James Glaser
June 24, 2005

No, don't look it up, "alectrics" is what I have called electricity ever since I was a boy and when the power went out yesterday, I said, "no alectrics."

It seems we all take electricity for granted, but up here in Northern Minnesota we know that there are going to be outages, because so many of the lines run through the forest and storms drop trees on the power lines or cause two lines to touch, which trips a breaker some place in the system.

One nice thing about power outages is that it allows you to notice how quiet things can get when the power grid is broken. The background noise in our lives is very loud, but we don't notice it because it is so constant, but when all of a sudden it stops, the quiet becomes a surprise.

Up here you always have to be ready for anything and that means knowing where you keep the candles, kerosene lights, and matches. The water pressure stays on until you use about 5 gallons from the pressure tank, then it is down to the lake with a bucket. I like most up here have an "out house" for emergencies.

Usually it is a matter of hours before the power is restored, but a few years ago my daughter Whitney and I had 5 days without power and we actually loved it. No TV or radio. We had to entertain ourselves. I think work wise I got just as much done, but I have to admit that power tools do save a lot of sweat and sore muscles. Reading becomes way more important, but not everyone had as good of a time as we did,

I had a neighbor, who bought a generator so that he could power up his TV and told me his kids were going nuts and driving he and his wife batty too, because they could think of nothing to do. I felt sorry for all of them. How sad to be chained to an electronic box for all of your entertainment.

Now the power is back on and I can type this out. I really am not a Luddite, but I can appreciate stepping back in time for awhile. Things were more peaceful back in pre-industrial times, but people had to work like dogs to get a fraction of the work done that a machine can help us do in minutes.

We have had a wonderful warm-up. Temperatures in the 80s and 90s tell us that summer is really here and I was down getting the dock level and rigid, standing in the warm lake up to my neck, and enjoying the heck out of the fact that summer was really here. I believe swimming season has just opened and I will do my best to swim until the cold water drives me out. Right now I can walk right in without those gasps of unbelief of how cold the water is. Spring swimming wakes you right up and is invigorating, but it is hard to get up enough courage to get in the water.

I think those two Pine Martins who moved in on my lake shore hill will be moving on, as they have decimated the squirrel population around here as well as the chipmunks. I guess that is part of nature's balancing act.

My tomatoes are starting to go from that dark dark green to a lighter shade and one plant's fruit is almost ready to turn to pink. I know what they will taste like and the first is always best, so I look forward to that red tomato day with anticipation.

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