The other night this part of Texas dealt with some serious rain as a line of thunder storms made their way east.
Of course anyone who is familiar with the Houston area knows that many of the roads tend to be built at or below sea level and simple rain can quickly turn said streets into rivers leaving cars afloat and drivers stranded.
So knowing that the storms were coming, and with them the increased likelihood of flooded roads, I made sure that I was tucked safely inside when the first rain drops arrived.
With the knowledge that I was going to be riding the storm out in the comfort of the Triple B Gigaplex I decided to pass the time flipping between a NASCAR race in Richmond, VA and the new episode of Doctor Who. I suppose I could have added a baseball game into the rotation as well but I really try to only flip between two shows at a time.
The race was one of the slow developing ones of late and I found myself flipping less to the race and staying more on the channel with Doctor Who as the thunder popped and the lightning made the night sky bright outside my windows.
Then with the Doctor and Clara facing certain peril in the Tardis, my entire world went dark with a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder. Yes, boys and girls I was in the dark facing a power outage and not even a sonic screwdriver could help.
I waited for a minute or two to see if the lights would come back on but sadly they did not and I knew that I was most likely in for a long, dark night.
Now, some people might be perfectly content to stay inside a darkened home and wait for the power to come back on. In fact there were centuries before electricity where it was quite common to be in the dark or to only have a candle’s light to pierce into the darkness.
Unfortunately, as a man of action I am not one of those people to whom total darkness appeals.
So with no sign of an end to the blackout in sight, I did what any rationale person in a completely dry place in the middle of a terrible storm would do; I went outside.
Thankfully, my car was close by and was equally dry to the darkened house that I had left so my exposure to the elements was minimal. Now, before I get people thinking I am crazy for heading out into the storm, as is usually the case there was method to my madness.
Once inside my car I was not only able to listen to the NASCAR race on the radio but I was also able to charge my phone. And considering I did not know when power would be restored I figured a charged phone might come in handy.
While the trip to the car in the midst of the storm had a practical purpose it also served to provide a great backdrop for a race that was still as boring on the radio as it had been on television.
With no lights as far as the eye could see, the lightning was free to put on a dazzling display of its power in both the cloud to cloud and cloud to ground variety. In the darkness I could see the flashes of brilliance from the lightning without any artificial lights distracting me.
So as I sat there in my running car with the air conditioning cooling me and the radio filling my ears, it was a completely surreal experience in both a powered and unpowered world.
My rationale mind knows that my street should not be devoid of lights yet after about 10 minutes in the darkness I grew accustomed to it and soon forgot about the lights that would normally be blazing bright around me.
When I was younger and would visit my grandmother’s house in south Georgia it got dark on moonless nights. I mean real dark. We are talking about the kind of dark that even the dark is afraid of.
With only a single outside light on it was pitch black as far as the eye could see. And the darkness was filled with many sounds that kept younger me up at night since they were sounds that I did not hear back home on my brightly lit street in the suburbs.
As I was sitting in the car in the dark I thought back to those darkened nights and the things that went bump in the night and suddenly they didn’t seem as scary. I guess that is what a couple of decades of experiencing things will do for a person.
After about 90 minutes in the dark power was restored to my street and I was able to go back inside to finish watching the race and enjoy all of the comforts that go along with an on the power grid life.
My trip to a powerless time was complete but in some ways I missed the darkness and the natural splendor of a world free from artificial illumination.
That is not to say that I am going to call the power company and tell them to shut off my power so that I can live as many of the Amish do. But I think it will hopefully have me take time to venture out into the country more to see the stars and other elements of the night sky without the blight of artificial lights.
Now if you’ll excuse me I think it is time to take advantage of some of that power and catch up with the Doctor and Clara.
Copyright 2013 R. Anderson