Tuesday evening I was reading “The Bookseller of Kabul,” about Afghanistan after Russia, the Taliban and the United States got through with it: huge families crowded in close quarters, usually no water and what there was of it cold, electricity only two or three hours a day, if that … when, with a brilliant surge and a loud POP, the power went out.On a homestead in Alaska, I lived without running water and electricity for a year and missed them both a lot, mainly the water. But we were, as much as you can be, prepared. In the “summer,” we caught rain water in a tarp hung in the trees and dumped it into 55-gallon barrels. In the winter we melted snow and five miles away there was an all-season trickle of a spring.We had a wood-burning furnace, a propane stove and Coleman lanterns, so a power outage in Anchorage didn’t mean squat to us.Now, by the dark amber glow of my one dying flashlight, I search in my “battery and miscellaneous” drawer, finding only a couple of corroded C’s. Didn’t I just buy them last week? Damn! I open the flashlight and confirm that it requires D batteries, of which there are none, and then can’t get the flashlight back together again. I have a few candles, but that’s it. Candles I’m not comfortable lighting in a house full of oxygen.I have a pea panic. WHAT IF the power outage lasts long enough to thaw the contents of my freezer, including the 9 pounds of peas I shelled and froze over the past three weeks!? No. Never going to happen. Get a grip. Be glad you have liquid oxygen and not a concentrator dependent on electricity.I go outside and read until I get a headache, but I can’t really concentrate in the eerie silence with the feeling that my lifelines have been cut.And it is getting dark. My flashlight is in pieces so I go to call the Aspen Times to find out what’s going on and the phone is dead. Don’t these things have batteries? Am I going to have to get a dreaded cell phone? And don’t they, too, have to regularly be recharged? I turn off the TV and the power strip to my computer, get in my car and head to the Aspen Times, seeking light. I note that the traffic signals are working as are the streetlights on one side. Lights at Stage 3. I run into Tim Mutrie in the alley behind the Times, who puts my flashlight back together and says power has just been restored. No need to buy D batteries at Carl’s after all – I can think about that tomorrow.How quickly we cast caution to the winds. When the power goes off again an hour later I have no idea where I put the flashlight. In total darkness I find myself flailing around in the bathroom that I had misidentified as my bedroom – what’s THIS thing, I think, as I grab a towel.I find the flashlight and, reassured, sit outside on the back porch looking at the stars. One thing about the power being off, the stars are really bright. I think of an interview in the paper with David Floria, who is blind and said he really missed the stars, and I feel deeply grateful for the stars and glad I don’t live in Afghanistan or anywhere else. I live in paradise and am brought up short to have been so discombobulated by a few hours without electricity.I mean, really – is this a crisis?So I go to bed and, sure enough, the power comes back on an hour later. I confess to feeling reassured at the hum and whir of the house returning to life.Su Lum is a longtime local who thought she knew better. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
“Since the COVID pandemic began, personal touch and hugs have been absent within society. Sharing joyful and sorrowful moments have forced us all to lose connection with each other. Being deprived of touch and affection is definitely causing social, emotional and mental health concerns,” writes Judson Haims.