Last night, as I sat in bed and began reading the pages of my latest Terry Pratchett (and when I say latest, I mean most-lately-picked-off-the-shelf, but likely read at least five times before), the power went out. Blackness. It flicked back on for a moment (hope!) and then again, gone. Dark.
And this was the beginning of our evening. Turns out the entire street had lost power, which – while my mother may debate me – happens often enough in this area, like once every few months, and more so in the winter. Then again, it’s often a fuse blown in the house when the space heaters are turned on . . . but nevertheless, blackouts happen frequently enough that my family has an unspoken protocol.
First, turn on the flashlight. There’s always a flashlight. By my bed is a light so bright, it illuminates entire rooms. I flicked this on and headed for the basement room where my husband had been on his computer. He had his tiny flashlight going as well (just this weak orange light) and we proceeded to head upstairs. On the way up, we came across my brother leaving his room with a candle lit. Something about him with this long white candle reminded me of a Dickens novel.
Ready with our lighting of choice, we proceeded to the second step: Go upstairs to the living room.
I think darkness has a sort of magnetism. It brings people together, you know? Before the blackout my parents were upstairs watching NCIS, my brother was in his room watching Netflix, Zsolt was playing card games online, and I was in my room reading. After the blackout we instinctually gravitate to the living room and each other’s company.
There’s a gas fireplace in the living room, which offers a nice amount of light and heat. With a bit of searching for the matches (at which point my brother passes me his candle, which is easier than searching for the matches in the dark), we light up some more candles and group them on the coffee table.
Here the third step of blackouts came into play: Entertainment. Zsolt and I played some card games (like real, card in hand games. No computer involved), Daniel whipped out his ipod and he and my parents collectively played angry birds. Later we decided to look outside and slide on the ice rain. And eventually we all settled into conversation.
I love blackouts. I love those dark nights with candles spent with my family. They’re a special time, so long as the lack of power doesn’t extend into an actual emergency. In Canada there is a national holiday called “Family Day”. Maybe we need to have a national, monthly blackout called, “Family Night.” That or we could just turn off our computers and televisions occasionally. Sometimes it feels like there’s so much ‘on the screen’ that we forget how much the real world offers.
Once the lights were restored that dark-night magic vanished and everyone went their separate ways. But at least we had that lovely hour by the fire. It’s almost a shame that the lights hadn’t stayed off all night. . . or at least until the house began to turn cold.
Almost a shame. Though I have to say, I do also love reading my Terry Pratchett in bed.