About five summers ago we had a major power failure in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. We were without power for days. All the things we took for granted -- refrigerator, television, computers, A/C!, lights! -- all gone for the time being. We were plunged back into some past time, but without any preparation -- no ice house in the backyard, no non-electric lighting system, not even a clothes line.
So, we grilled a lot of what was in our freezer on our charcoal grill. We got out our cooler, bought ice, and kept food cold. We could use our gas stove by lighting it manually with a match. We strategically closed or opened curtains and windows to keep the house as cool as possible.
My biggest complaint was that once it got dark, I couldn't read. Candlelight didn't make enough light for reading.
So most evenings we built a fire in our fire pit and we sat around it and talked. My husband, our two kids, and I talked more than we had in months, maybe years. Our talk was not about anything really important, we just talked about all kinds of things, including who was the better fire builder. I think we probably talked about books and movies, about friends and family members. Nobody complained about the lack of electricity, though it was definitely inconvenient. Those days really were like a vacation from normal life.
The lights came back on eventually and life returned to normal. We could wash clothes in the machine and check email. We could read at night and watch television.
We stopped sitting around the fire and talking. That is what I miss the most from those few days.