Monday, February 15, 2010

civilization and its disconnects

I'm still trying to get into the blogging rhythm. I've been distracted the past two weeks, in part by paralyzing snowstorms in the Washington area.

As a third-generation Colorado native, I know about snow. I like snow, and the seasonal changes that bring buds in spring and brightly colored leaves in autumn. I don't mind shoveling snow -- or at least I didn't until I developed a tennis-elbow type injury during the 18-incher in December.

But I don't like losing power, as occurred in the first heavy storm of February, when a big tree on our tree-lined street toppled across the road, bringing down the power lines. For 18 hours, we had no power. That meant no heat, no electric lights, no electronic entertainment devices, no Internet. I had to use my cellphone sparingly, since there was no way to recharge the battery.

I wasn't in danger. I had candles and flashlights, a gas stove to boil water and heat pans, and a cozy duvet. Some neighbors held a party: the wine was well chilled. But as the house grew colder, I began to worry about frozen pipes and damaged houseplants. Since we had been without power for four days one summer after a hurricane, I was apprehensive that the repair crews might take just as long getting through the snow and ice. But after 18 hours, the lights and heat were restored.

The biggest lesson for me was how much I depend on connections to the outside world: reliable phone service, daily newspapers, radio and television, and of course the on-line world. At times i the past, I've survived quite well without each or all of those connections, sometimes for days at a time. But now I crave my news fixes, my ability to check out weather-traffic-public services-shopping information immediately. I guess I've become addicted to modern communications and I can't bear even temporary withdrawal.

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