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Turn out the lights, embrace darkness

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Something unusual happened at our house last week. We were watching television around 7 p.m. and the electricity went out. In the blackness, we searched for our phones to get some light going, then located the nearest flashlights and tried to figure out what was happening with the power. We wandered outside to see if the outage was wide-spread or just confined to our house.

About the time we were about to light up the hurricane lamps, the power flicked back on and everything around us seemed to spring back to life. We then proceeded to go from room to room resetting all the blinking digital lights and timers and getting the internet back to working again.

Even though the power was out for no more than three minutes, it was long enough to remind me of what fun it can be when you lose electricity. Almost immediately, you become much more aware of your surroundings. Everything is certainly darker, but also much quieter. Without the hum of the refrigerator, the drone of the AC unit and the never-ending noise from the TV, you can really hear. When we stepped outside for those few minutes of darkness, I distinctly heard the sounds of the outside. The crickets chirping and the distant hum of traffic coming from Highway 6. Everything seemed very still in the darkness.

A power outage can give you a perfect excuse to play a card game or board game, or just sit around and talk. Or read. Without that power, you are essentially thrust back in time to the “olden days” (whatever that may mean to you). For me, I envision the 1930s with a family gathered around the wireless -- meaning a radio -- to hear the latest news and entertainment. I think it might be fun to live like “The Waltons” for a few hours.

The problem is that power, even in our area of the woods, is so darn reliable nowadays that outages that were once a fairly common and regular occurrence hardly ever happen anymore. The last sustained outage we experienced was during Hurricane Ike, and that was twelve years ago!

Unfortunately, at our house, being without power also means being without a working potty. Yes, our aerobic septic system needs electricity to operate. And with us being without a John-Boy Walton-era outhouse, things could get a little fragrant before long in the old homestead.

Some people have invested in whole-house generators that will provide emergency power for an entire home. Use one of those and your life can keep on going as if nothing unusual is happening around you. The convenience sounds great, but what about my trip back in time to the 1930s?

Kudos to MidSouth Electric Co-op for staying on top of things, for keeping our electricity flowing and fixing us up when there is an outage. But one of these days I may have to resort to turning out the lights at 7 p.m. and pretending it’s a blackout. Anyone up for a game of Clue?

Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County and writes a bi-weekly column for the Navasota Examiner.