Saturday, January 10, 2009


Wild Plants and Wooly Bears

When ice makes walking difficult and snow and sub-freezing temperatures limit time spent outside, my world shrinks. Enforced servitude to the woodstove becomes the order of the day.

At the same time, near places suddenly become distant. My mailbox, less than a 10-minute walk on a normal day, may as well stand in Nome, Alaska. And town, a 15-minute drive, remains out of bounds when snow mounts, making driving impossible.

When coupled with a power outage, I’m plunged into the 19th century. Computers, televisions and other electronic devices become inanimate objects, with no utilitarian use. But after all, is that such a bad thing? I think not. In fact, it seems to me that everyone ought to experience some degree of total isolation at least a few times in their lives.

Candles and canned goods replace electric lights and fresh foods. Real, live music, performed on the spot, makes recorded music seem totally irrelevant. And books, read by squinting through bifocals in flickering candlelight, bring comedy and drama, laughter and tears, to life in a way that no movie or television show ever could.

I pity those who never, ever, found themselves alone. It’s a learning experience and a necessary part of life.

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