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Our Trek Out of Darkness – 8 Surprisingly Useful Things to Have When the Power Goes Out

Yesterday I read this enthralling/exciting/exhilarating blog about an adventure in Africa where a lion under cloak of darkness passed right beside the author who could have become an over-sized Scoobie snack in a heartbeat,   I was inspired to write about my own eye-opening adventure; it happened last night. It too has darkness, an agitated animal and an exotic location…..the suburbs. Well, it’s exotic for people who don’t live here.

I do not like pitch darkness. I sleep with a light on somewhere down the hall and leave shades open to catch early sunlight. But this night I awoke to absolute darkness and a familiar if slowly recognized noise. And through my lonesome experience in the wee hours of the morning, I’ve come to value the tools I found  surprisingly useful when the lights went out.

Tools below are listed in order of appearance.

  1. An Insomniac. To work things out while others sleep
  2. A Protecting Rabbit – Bullwinkle came and woke me from my deep (albeit temporary) sleep on the couch in my office by tugging and scratching on things near me. I opened my eyes to complete blackness which of course meant he was invisible to me. He is after all a black rabbit, but I knew he was there. I could feel his presence and I heard his telltale sound of destruction. Typically he avoids my office. So something was definitely amiss, and he needed to find the pack leader.  I, of course, assumed he’d chewed through the deadly medium voltage wires of the television and the light and was the cause of the black out. Poor wrongly accused rabbit.

    Two Shades of Black
    Two Shades of Black
  3. Lightsticks and Necklaces, and a very Thoughtful Husband. It was close to 2 am; Jon leaves for work at 5:45 am, so I didn’t want to wake him. Many storms ago, Jon purchased those glow-in- the-dark necklaces and sticks and left some in the bedroom. This irritated me as I interpreted this as his leaving extra clutter (I already had enough), so I put them in the den just the other day. And voila, I could immediately put my hands on them and used them to find my next light source. (Poor wrongly accused husband.) I made glowing necklace links for the bathroom, hung in front of the mirror for double exposure light, and the door to Leisa’s room so if she woke up she’d know she wasn’t the sole survivor at the end of the world.  (Imagination was in overdrive.)

    Double exposure Glow Stick in Mirror
    Double exposure Glow Stick in Mirror
  4. A computer. I’d left it on with the thought that I’d get back to work sometime during the night. Now the screen was absorbed into the inky blackness all but an eerie green ember glowing from its side. Hands outstretched and with baby steps I carefully picked my way toward that winking light, opened the lid and the darkness released its grip on my heart and mind, at least enough to get me outside the safety of my office.IMG_0345
  5. My cell phone…aka PLS (portable light source) extended in front, hand grasping cool, iron rail and I made it downstairs safely. My mind flashed  – the battery!! – I didn’t want to use up the battery. I needed to find another light source. I also needed to apprise the police of the situation and get the 411.
  6. Matches. All that technology, and it was the simplest device that began in earnest the return to normalcy. But not without its own dangers: remember, never play with matches. Why hunt for matches in utter darkness? The lighter atop my candle fireplace had been snagged for grill duty ages ago and had not been replaced. But when I wrote my post on the contents of the Junk Drawer (, I moved some matches to a more intuitive spot, and I found them where I left them.  Matches aren’t as easy to come by as they used to be, so keep them on hand, and know where you left them.

    IMG_0350 fake candle
    Fake candle – Useless
  7. Real Candles. Throughout the ages man has had a love/fear relationship with fire, and I am not immune. I don’t like gas stoves, and I am wary of open flames in my home. I employ some of those fake glowing tea lights but they are a joke when it comes to lumens (light output).  Tonight at dinner Jon mentioned I had way too many candles and candle holders in a cabinet.  I said he was right and I should move them to the basement, but tonight they were so much easier to find in the kitchen. (Poor wrongly accused me.) Plus they were closer to the vase and the brandy snifter I used to contain them.  Gotta keep those flames contained. I actually put the lit candle in a brandy snifter in the bathtub. There were only a couple of hours before daylight would begin seeping in through the windows, so I almost resorted to keeping the candle (in the glass, in the tub) burning unattended, a very reckless move.  IMG_0352 candle comparison with textHere’s a cool link to Light Measurement terminology:
  8. A Camera. Another portable light source and a way to document the weird world stuck between night and day, light and dark. If it all works out as I hope, only Bullwinkle and I would actually know what happened, and he wasn’t talking.
Candle in glass in tub
Candle in glass in tub

When I called 911, I explained that my back yard overlooks the last street in the next town and that the street lights were out there as well, so this might be pretty widespread. The local police officer said I was the first person to call it in. (Maybe because the rest of the world was sleeping.) He promised to inform the electric company. I’d like to think my call initiated the repair so others could sleep soundly. Unfortunately, other families may sleep through their intended alarm in the morning, but there’s only so much I can do for the people outside of my house.IMG_6404 blackout w fireplace ver 2

By candlelight, I cleaned the animal cage and gave my hero bun water and food (a special papaya treat for the Bull-man). Then, shortly before 3 am, the lights noiselessly began to glow (I must have turned off the television). I reset my clock.  Just an hour before dawn.  Two hours before the slumbering Jon awakes, and three before Leisa is yanked from her reverie. Sweet dreams rest of the world. I’d try to sleep, but it’s now just shy of 4 am and the birds, oh those relentlessly noisy birds in their lofty perches must have noticed the night sky shifting from ebony to charcoal gray and think the world should rejoice in the arrival of a new day…     Ya, well, try me again at about 8.IMG_6407 two candles for blog

 ©2013 by Alison Colby –Campbell.

 PS: Jon got up at 5 and went into the bathroom and came out smiling. I only wish I had the foresight to say I’d decorated the bathroom on a whim to wish him a nice day. I’d like to be that kind of person once in a while. But instead I reported on the outage. Missed opportunity.  He moved the mirrored glow ring to the shower…mood lighting for showers is good. But now useless in the daylight, they all lay extinguished in the trash. I’m instituting a specialty month – “random acts of kindness to someone you love very much” month. I think it would work to target loved ones and not just strangers all the time, don’t you? What month should it be?

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