There is something about candle light that is just so much more wholesome and authentic than electric light.
Last week Wednesday I came home from work and discovered that we had no electricity.
Somewhere up the valley from us there was a problem with the power lines that effectively left us without electricity from the time that I got home to just after the children’s bed time.
Fortunately I cook with gas and my geyser is gas too, so I was still able to provide for our families basic needs, but that was it.
There was no radio, no lights and no T.V!
And you know what? It was the best week night that my kids and I have had in long time.
We ate our meal by the flickering light of three candles.
My whole home seemed to change from this usually perfunctory place into a something almost magical. I watched my three year old watching the shadows dance across the walls with such total concentration that he ate his entire meal without realising that it was full of peas and carrots!
When the candles are burning and the sun goes down voices seem to drop automatically. There is a shifting in energy when it gets dark and you only have natural lighting. Evening sets in, the good old fashioned way. When there are no artificial lights keeping us going like battery chickens we actually have a biological clock that is tuned to hit snooze after dark.
I had forgotten, in spite of having had lived off the grid for over nine years and only having solar power, I had somehow forgotten how much simpler life is that way.
So my children ate their dinner and had their candle lit bath, and then they gravitated towards me on the couch, where we sat huddled together under a fuzzy blanket and I read them Tolkien in the warm, flickering light. They were enraptured. They were calm. It was honestly the most pleasant and cooperative week night we have had in ages. It was like a little holiday from the outside world. Bordering on magical.
Though they were relieved when the power came back on just in time to put their night lights on at bed time, and I of course would not be able to sit here typing this if I wasn’t connected to the mains right now, I must say that I think that occasional power cut should be seen as an opportunity to do something different.
I also strongly recommend the occasional (very localised) load shedding to parents who are struggling the T.V. war in the evenings. Just turn off the mains, tell them it’s a power cut, and use the opportunity to take out the board games and the books, or your guitars, or whatever. Just make sure that you have plenty of candles in stock and your supper is sorted.
You will find that there is something wholesome and comfortable in your family too, once all of the distractions are gone and your DNA is allowed to do what it is designed to do when the sun goes down.