06 September 2011

So Not 18th Century?

Remember that hurricane last week? I lost electricity for a day and a half. (It was bad but could have been much worse.) Here are some reflections written when I was semi in the dark...


I have a confession. Thanks to Miss Irene I've come to the conclusion that--when it comes down to it--I might very well be So Not 18th Century. It's 4PM on Sunday. I've been without power for six hours--a personal record. In four hours it will be dark and I don't know what I'm going to do. It will be too dark to sew or read. Can't watch the latest Gordon Ramsey show. Agh!?! Which makes me presume that I couldn't cut it as a colonist.

I ask myself, "If it was 1770, what would I think about this day?" I would probably write a letter...

Tis a day that is more in keeping with March or the winter for the wind is terribly strong. There has been rain but tis not a storm. Many branches have fall from trees and a walk to the harbor shews the water's waves to also feel the heavy winds. 

I must confess, I am glad for the lack of sun and this cool wind. for during these late summer months I oft long for the stark cold of winter.

It's true. Hurricane Irene hasn't brought my island in Southern New England a lot of rain. It's the wind that's proving problematic. The whole island lost electricity due to a tree that fell on a power line. We're trying to eat everything from the fridge but most will be wasted.

I feel lost without the breaking news. I can't visually follow Hurricane Irene's path up the East Coast. I can't follow everyone's facebook updates and learn how the storm is affecting them.

How did colonists manage receiving news so slowly?

I have limited cell phone coverage. I can text my sister who lives downtown, feet from the flood zone. She's drinking strawberry milk. I can text my mom vacationing in Florida. She's shopping for my baby's upcoming birthday. Yet I still worry about my loved ones.

How did colonists handle not hearing from family for weeks / months at a time?

On the other hand, maybe it wouldn't have been that bad. If this storm had hit in the 18th century I wouldn't have known it was coming. I wouldn't have spent days in advance worrying about it or preparing for it. This would just be another gloomy Sunday.


  1. Funny you should mention that - Tyler and I were talking about the same thing -- how early Americans (well, anyone who lived before fast-paced, far-reaching information technology came on the scene)wouldn't have realized how severe the storm was (or that it was coming) until they had corresponded with others or read about the storm occurring around the same time in newspapers...I wouldn't have had to worry about so much stuff getting ruined, either, as I would not have had all that much!

  2. Elizabeth.. I would have been lost without my IPAD.. made sure I had it all charged up and have a portable battery charger to boot..will never be without a battery operated radio for the next storm, went out in the middle of the storm to listen to the radio in the car, pretty pathetic, but it was so quiet!

  3. We here in northern New England have been without power on fairly rare occasions for several days. Once it was in mid February, and no heat...yikes! I confess it wasn't ideal, but we closed off the doors to the bedroom in our 18thc. cape and had the fireplace continually going in there. At night, with layers on, and the bed curtains closed on our 1686 bed, leaving only the side to the fire open, we were suprisingly cozy! The room was bathed in a glow of candlelight from our many period candlesticks, and I had my hubby and best friend, Adam, to talk to! I am an accomplished hearth cook, and made all of our meals in the fireplace in this room (Although we have 3, it was silly to lite those and try to keep the entire house warm when we could live in one room for those days. Running to the "chamber pot" room, or to the kitchen for things was a cold business indeed, but we managed.
    I remember watching 'Colonial House' on PBS some years ago. Could I do it? Yes. Some things in life are such an opportunity for learning, that I think I could forsake the comforts of modern life for a little while at least...


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