We had a series of power outages yesterday, the last coming just as we were putting the boys to bed. Losing power is frustrating — you never get an honest answer from the power company about what is wrong and when it will be fixed, so you basically wait — hoping, fearing, wondering, and then eventually power comes back. But there is always some sense of historical adventure in the experience, especially at night. You get just a taste of life in another time. I have a bit of personal children’s book history with blackouts — Don Freeman (best known these days for the Corduroy books) wrote an illustrated The Night the Lights Went Out in 1958 (more on him, as set down by his son Roy, http://donfreeman.info/images/2008/08/DF-FAQs.pdf) the book is dedicated to Thatcher Hurd, son of Clement, but it was importantly based on our family’s experience (though I cannot recall exactly which blackout or where). So to me blackouts and books — and trips to the past were always linked.
Last night once the kids were in bed I went outside and had the curious experience of noticing that there was more ambient light outside than inside. The house, lit only by candles, was darker than our yard. Now perhaps some of that nightglow may have come from other parts of town that still had power. But it was a reminder that nighttime could be quite bright back when there was no light pollution, when stars and the moon really did blaze and shine. I had just a brief sense of what it was like to be in a rhythm where you got up before dawn, worked very hard, such that when night fell you went home only to eat and sleep. Home was a shelter, but light and life were outside. I loved my brief time travel. Went back inside, and went to sleep. Power came on at midnight, and we’ll see what today brings.