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It’s Wednesday night – and the power is out in Tofino

September 9, 2009

fireplace LDSCN2550Every time this happens, my reaction is the same. Intense frustration – for about two minutes. Then a sigh of relief, as I adapt to life without electricity: maybe for a few minutes, or maybe for a few days. I always have at least one flashlight stowed where I can find it by feel – with that in hand, I can then dig around in my drawers and up top of the cabinets, pulling out my tall candles and my tealights, and placing them around the room, the tall ones against the walls and windows so their light is reflected back into the room. If it is dinner time, I pull out the camp stove – mine is a Trangia, which burns alcohol, so it’s as safe (and silent) in the home as a fondue pot.

The power goes out a lot in Tofino in winter. Our single power supply line follows alongside our single road connection to the outside world, winding away along steep forested slopes above Sproat Lake, then over Sutton Pass, then skirting the margins of the Kennedy Canyon for 125 km. One winter storm with one branch down across the lines, and all power here on the west coast is gone. It happens a lot. It is much less common here in summer, usually the result of a car leaving our winding road and slamming into a power pole.  The power went out abruptly this afternoon, on a calm and sunny day, so I suspect that that is what happened.

Sometimes the power comes back like a unexpected blow to the head – lights switch on abruptly, painfully, while the smoke alarm blurts out a piercing screech and the fridge fires up with a hum. But tonight, so far – no. As the light faded this evening, I set up my candles around the kitchen and put on some mellow music, assembled my camp stove, and cooked my dinner. Yes, I admit, I am not fully electricity-free this time!  I have a new speaker system for my iPod, so can enjoy music even while the power is out! Then I lit a fire, and lounged back on the couch in front of the crackling fire for a slow-paced and peaceful meal. Why don’t I do this more?

Now I am back upstairs, typing away by candle-light as the battery on my laptop goes down before my eyes, linked to the world via my Rogers internet stick (it works on cell frequencies). I am more relaxed than I have been in weeks, and hope that I won’t get abruptly jerked back into that world of bright lights and loud noises. But for now, no signs of that. All is still good, the power is still out.

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