Building A SustaInable Life...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Power... Failure?

Power outages are interesting things. Often frustrating, sometimes dangerous, occasionally exciting... today's was a lot of fun. You know, for me.

The whole town lost power today from about 3:00 until close to 9. For the better part of an hour, a thunderstorm accompanied the outage, making for some truly exciting (and surprisingly decent) driving and absolutely hilarious walking and dancing about. I was supposed to be at a planting party at the campus community garden, but on my way there it became clear that it was a lost cause.

So I watched.

I drove, and then I walked, seeing my neighbours (many of them for the first time) out in the rain, sitting on their porches, playing in their yards, jumping in puddles, getting soaking wet. Captain Tightpants had a great time doing all of the above (okay, not so much with the sitting), Baby Bird slept through it, and my husband and I soaked up as much rain-fun as we could, wishing the storm would carry on just a bit longer.

Even when it ended, though, the power remained out, and so did the people. Some interesting things have been said about Porch Time, how it seems to possess the magical power to conjure community and nurture neighbourliness. And it seems that when folks run out of things keeping them indoors (things requiring electricity), they begin to hit the porches. And they start to see each other. They talk to each other. They go walking around, just to walk around, start saying hello just to say hello. To fill the time, surely, but hey, at least it's happening.


The local ice cream shop that opened up just a couple of years ago had a generator. While nearly every shop, office, school, and business in town closed its doors, Scoops stayed open, their door propped, balloons flying, serving up ice cream to swarms of people who came from who knows where, who had maybe never been there before. We loaded the kids into the chariot and took a stroll over, natch. It wasn't new to us, but the vibe of this day certainly was. People were buzzing. The ice cream was yummy. The servers were sweltering without their A/C, but were happy and friendly. Folks smiled at our kids. It may have been the only game in town, but it was a good one. Well played.


The nearby local ice cream shop was one of my favourite things about my old neighbourhood in Toronto; porch time was another. It's good to know we can have little pockets of both here. All it takes is a good storm.

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