“Huddled In the Dark”
by Shirley Swift
After the grid collapsed a year ago we have been re-working our schedules. Everything that can be done before sunset and then by solar lights is usually finished by 10:30 p.m. in the summer. This old manual typewriter, bought on a whim five years ago gives me extended communication time, mainly because I don’t have to see to use it. I do my typing from 10:30 to 11:30 or so. Sometimes the letters get all confused, but with a sense of humor the writing sometimes takes on a “new-language” look.
It’s been taking a while to get used to it, but comfort dictates that we get up at sunrise to take advantage of the light for as long as we can. That works well for summer. It is only in the winters we opt to use the oil lamps, sparingly, for needed work.
The warm quilts I sew on my treadle sewing machine, a 1946 “White” have been barter material for lamp oil, gasoline, and paper products.
We learned to make lists and shop the one store within a mile of home once a month. In the summer we walk and pull a small wagon as needed. That was rough at first, but, added to the canning we learned to do prior to the collapse, we found it do-able.
Others believe that everything will be up and running soon and they run their homes with gasoline-powered generators. I fear for their survival as their money is also giving out. And, I’ve been looking to that old saying about having “strength in numbers.”
We are fortunate to still be in infrequent communication with loved ones: 15 miles from one family that is established on 10 acres and seven miles from the other, who lives in the city. The city dwellers both have good-paying jobs. But, they aren’t going to be able to count on them unless the grid comes back up. We are in discussion to either live together, at one of their places, or come and live on this one-acre farm. It would seem more prudent for us to make the journey to the ten acres. We’ve just been holding out for as long as we can, while planning on paper. When we leave, we may not have a home to come back to.
There are just so many things to think about in terms different than just a few years ago. Survival isn’t the problem – it’s the comfort level that we are having to readjust. We have learned to make do, by doing without.
Stocking up on non-electrical things has helped towards our independence. That started years ago. Having a family member, a partner, or a circle of like-minded friends has become necessary, because being independent requires dependence on someone trustworthy.
So here I sit, huddled at my table in the darkness. The typed list before me will be read in the morning. It is the pros and cons about re-locating. Three families – seven children from one to 24, six adults; possibly another family of two – four hunters, two avid gardeners, a seamstress, and a new mommy. All know how to can and dry foods, including game. It looks like the 10 acre farm 15 miles from here is the best suited for all of us; but housing will have to be built for the families of two and three persons. Would we have enough gas to make more than a few trips to actually move? Maybe I can make a lot of quilts to rent a truck, or a wagon. We must take the woodstove for example… and very few other things it appears. It makes me appreciate the cross-country pioneers who moved in Conestoga wagons.