POWERLESS – THE YEAR THE LIGHTS WENT OUT began with a dream. A dream in which, faced with a long-term power cut, I responded by emptying the freezer to make a soup of frozen vegetables. When I woke, I thought it would be interesting to write a fictional blog based on such a calamity occurring in the country house where we have lived for 21 years, near a village, near farms, surrounded by woods and fields.
I thought about how we would heat the house, gathering kindling before the winter rains soaked the wood, how we would pick mushrooms and nuts, hunt for game and how we could survive on the wild food around us. I imagined being resourceful, resilient and positive, writing the entries each day, being faithful to the weather at the time.
Many of the incidents in POWERLESS are real, though many aren’t. We did once find a deer dead on our doorstep, but no one was injured by an axe splitting logs. I really did rescue a fox cub from drowning in a ditch and I bottle fed a sickly abandoned lamb this spring. But the real lamb died and only Sooty, the fictional lamb, lived on. And amongst the many incidents recorded in the blog, the disappearance of the hens, the hellebore circle, the toad-eating snake, the chain and the run-away horse, the fearsome cockerel and the hatching chicks, have all been experienced by us. They didn’t all happen in the last few months, but they have happened at some time over the years here.
During the winter we also experienced a four-day power cut which made me wonder if I should be careful what I wish for. But it gave me an opportunity to cook over the fire and test some of the theories incorporated in POWERLESS.
But now, our time in this ancient house with its huge inglenook fireplaces, its uneven brick floors worn over centuries, its rough wattle and daub walls, its oak beams and its spiders and cobwebs, is coming to an end. We shall shortly be leaving and moving onto another adventure, which will be documented in a new but less frequent blog. Entitled A MOVING STORY, it will start tomorrow and will record the dismantling of a much loved house and the life we have lived here. We have fed chickens, bred sheep, patted pigs, made hay and scared deer. We have sat by blazing fires, mown acres of lawn, pruned rambling roses, stacked logs and planted an avenue of trees, but now it is time to leave and find a new way of life.