Historical and Contemporary Romance Author

Musing on Monday: My Brush with the 19th Century

Last week, a series of huge storms blew through Southern California. And when I say blew, I do mean “blew.” On Tuesday, the rain was accompanied by particularly large gusts of wind. One of these tore through the neighborhood just as my mom was outside the school waiting to pick up my kids (I was teaching at my office). The result was downed trees and downed power lines and an area-wide power outage.

When they arrived at our house (after finding three of the four possible routes blocked by trees/tree limbs), they discovered the pecan tree in the southwest corner of our yard was one of the storm’s victims. It missed hitting the house (although if it had, it would only have harmed on corner of the garage), but it didn’t miss hitting the power line. It didn’t completely detach the service line from the pole, but it seriously stretched it.

As it turned out, the entire neighborhood was without power from 2 that afternoon until about 5 on Wednesday morning, but we had to wait until 10:30 Wednesday night for someone to finally come out, remove the old line, and attach a new one above the fallen tree.

And thus the topic of my post. As I was wandering around my candle-lit house, it dawned on me that I was seeing things in much the same way the characters of my 19th century historical novels would have done. Of course, living without electrical power in the modern world is a good deal more inconvenient that it would have been for our non-electrified brethen who were, after all, accustomed to cooking meals and doing other day-to-day tasks without the help of electrical appliances like stoves and ovens and whatnot. They didn’t expect to have TV or radio or (ye gods how did I go 30 hours without?) the Internet, so they didn’t miss any of those things.

Even so, however, I was struck by how PRETTY everything seemed those two nights without power. Candles actually throw a surprising amount of light, particularly when well-placed, and after a while, it stopped seeming dark to me and instead seemed warm and cozy (even though, to be honest, the house was REALLY cold!). I became very aware in those hours how much softer things looked, how much less I noticed dirt (a very good thing for someone with my aversion to housekeeping, lol), and how relaxed that candlelight made me feel (once I got over the horror of figuring out how I was going to feed my family dinner without a stove).

After it was all over and the lights came back on, I almost MISSED the flickering warmth of candelight. My husband felt the same way. So we’re considering having a “back to the 19th century” night every now and again (with or without the assistance of the power company) just to enjoy it.

1 Comment

  • Clisby February 4, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    When I was a child, I and my siblings were always overjoyed when the electricity went out. We could build a fire! We could roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the fire! We could tell ghost stories by the fire! My parents were probably not so enthused, but they never let on.


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