Friday, November 20, 2009

Contemplating Electricity and Seeds

I know seeds and electricity do not have too much in common, but I have been thinking a lot about both of them lately. Usually I can't wait for summer or winter to come. Both of them have their drawbacks and blessings, but in the winter my electricity bill hits almost nil.

After Gustav our electricity was out around 18 days. Actually and unbelievably a longer time than after Katrina which was incomparably worse. It was sweltering. If you've never experienced the summer in New Orleans the best description I can use is oppressive. Humidity drapes over you like an iron x-ray apron and sweat soaks underwear, spine and stomach first and works it's way out. In the hottest part of the day it's best to rest to avoid overheating.

Me in my optimism and desire to "find out how much I can take" after Hurricane Gustav, resisted the desire of my husband to run out and buy a gas generator and window unit. After much sweating and griping my husband explained he really didn't want or care about my "experiment" and went out and bought both. We kept the master bedroom and bath cool and the kids "camped out" on the floor around our bed. I must admit I didn't volunteer to sleep in the living room to complete the experiment. What a difference it made in the attitudes of certain people in the household. We also ran the refrigerator and a few fans and lamps.

It really bothered me that we were so quick to rush out and spend large amounts of money to get our own electricity. My grandparents and my parents, Byron's grandparents and parents didn't always have air conditioning. Even though she had central air my grandmother from Mississippi never used it. I'll never forget the feeling of laying in bed with her on a summer night with the windows open and a breeze blowing, all the covers kicked off and my silky night gown sticking to my skin while my grandmother told me the story of the very wise King Solomon who wanted to cut a baby in half. That story really stuck in my mind and I mulled it over and over. Byron's mother likes to say, "I don't remember it being this hot when I was a little girl!" In many ways I believe her, but always just tell her she's wimpy now. Everyone cuts down their trees to "keep them from fallin' on the house during a hurricane", and so much more of the land is concrete. When I stand in the dense shade of a large live oak I realize we've been cutting down our "air conditioning" for years. In college I couldn't wait for the first sunny spring day to take a nap under the wide low sweeping branches of one of the ancient live oaks that can still be found in most city parks.

I once read on someones blog that his goal wasn't to replicate dependency on electricity with solar or wind. He explained that those who did went to great expense to secure a source that was still basically dependent upon outside sources to supply the necessities to generate electricity....turbines, solar panels, batteries, repairs...etc.... His goal was become less dependent upon electricity period.

Life should be able to go on with out it. You should be able to eat, entertain yourself, function and most of all cope. I quickly saw a breakdown of my family's ability in the cope department. But could you? Could you really live without electricity and actually be happy? I certainly love all the great stuff electricity gives me one of them being the limitless fingertip knowledge of the Internet, but if it and all the other electrical niceties disappeared would I moan like a wronged in love country singer or conjure up a "I will survive" spirit?

...and oh yes, on the seeds. I've heard quite a few advertisements about "emergency seeds". You know... just in case anything apocalyptic happens. This really is a joke. Unless those seeds fall into the hands of an experienced gardener or farmer, planting them and getting a decent crop is about as certain as winning the lottery. Maybe they should come with gardening classes as well. So if you're thinking about stocking them and have never gardened a lick. Go head and plant them as soon as you get them...It'll do you more good in the long run. You'll have more fun than you've had in a while too....

....hmmm maybe my next post will be on steps I've taken to help my family cope without electricity.....


Melba said...

I do believe that I could live with out less electricity, but I am not sure how well I would make out without any electricity. It would take a great deal of adjustments doing things like washing clothes, storing perishables, cooking...yikes. However, I do remember those summer nights sleeping at grandma's (I also remember her telling the story of King Solomon-She had a way with telling Bible stories). Listening to the insects and frogs through the screened window was such pleasant memories. As far as the garden goes-I am going to get my started real soon.

*J* said...

You are so right about the seeds. My garden this past summer was downright pitiful... I couldn't imagine having to count on it to supply our food for any length of time. Some of the problem was poor growing weather, but I'm sure a good amount was due to my lack of expertise.
Definitely food for thought!

Anonymous said...

we're trying to avoid using the heat until it dips below 58 degrees inside our central NC house. it means wearing socks and sweaters in the house and ... that's ok. rather than feeling deprived, it makes me feel a bit more connected to the seasons, and less like i am in a seasonless bubble.