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We lost our electricity around 5 pm on Monday during Hurricane Sandy–and it finally returned late the following night. I spent most of Monday, my birthday, working in my studio while Skyping with my friend Tara and my sister. MCLA cancelled classes because of the storm, and that added to my celebration.

And then the power went out mid-conversation with Tara. It was still light enough for us to finalize the flashlights and candles, having already filled as much water throughout the house as we possibly could.

Trees down along the Kitchen Brook trail in our backyard, thanks to Hurricane Sandy

Trees down along the Kitchen Brook trail in our backyard, thanks to Hurricane Sandy

This makes two years in a row that my birthday was celebrated in the midst of a weather event. 2011 brought us 12+ inches of snow in that freak late-October snow storm, and we all know what Sandy brought us. Thankfully power loss was the major disruption for us–house, trees and property all good.

So we played Scrabble, ate a lovely dinner by candlelight, and went to bed early with books and headlamps, a wonderful way to celebrate. And again, I am faced with the lesson of the unexpected–how as much as one can plan, there are all sorts of things that happen in the universe that force us to reconsider our path, whether that interruption is for an hour, a day or a lifetime, the wilderness exists not just in the wilds of the west and Alaska, but all around us.

To add a bit more, here’s a passage from one Michael Pollen’s early books, Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education.

Anthropocentric as [the gardener] may be, he recognizes that he is dependent for his health and survival on many other forms of life, so he is careful to take their interests into account in whatever he does. He is in fact a wilderness advocate of a certain kind. It is when he respects and nurtures the wilderness of his soil and his plants that his garden seems to flourish most. Wildness, he has found, resides not only out there, but right here: in his soil, in his plants, even in himself…
But wildness is more a quality than a place, and though humans can’t manufacture it, they can nourish and husband it…
The gardener cultivates wildness, but he does so carefully and respectfully, in full recognition of its mystery.

I depend on electricity–on water, heat, food–and what electricity brings to me–and that makes me dependent on so many different people out in the world doing their jobs. This becomes especially clear in wilderness moments like a hurricane. I send out many thoughts and prayers to those who were not as fortune as I was…

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