Posted by: highmountainmuse | September 17, 2009

Going without

Pole Mountain in clouds

Pole Mountain in clouds

Here in the monochrome light of the early morning, the sky just begins to lighten, all color is still shades of grey, including the brilliant aspens across river visible from the comfort of my chair, their silhouettes bland and indistinct against the looming hillside, shaded by the canopy of the heavy, drifting clouds.  The autumn leaves are memories of a spectacle I know is there but does not expose itself to me now.

My morning ritual of both receiving and writing a quick note to a friend so far away and yet so very close, before I open a blank page and begin to write, is interrupted with the power outage, a regular occurrence in stormy weather for those of us with solar power. Take nothing for granted. We are grateful for the abundant electricity and reliable services when the sun does shine.  But we know we can do without.  There is so much we have, we use, we rely on, that once without, we remember how little we need.

Simple things. Like flicking a switch to turn on a light.  We remember we can instead strike a match, light a candle. When was the last time you went without power?  Can you do it by choice? One thing at time… start with the lights, keeping them off. Oh, it is romantic! We learn to see, or not, perhaps go to bed early. That isn’t so bad! Our eyes adjust, then pick up the slightest changes of light, like now, as the sky brightens, noticeably yet so finely, with each minute that passes.

I look around regularly and see how much I have that I can do without.  How much more I have than I really need.  How much of this I do take for granted, and how much is the core essence of what really matters.  My boys.  My animals.  The mountain.  The heat of the wood stove or fire.  A simple meal.  Friendship from time to time.  Good hard work and point to every day. 

What do we do with all the rest of this?



  1. In 2002 after a bad ice storm. At my home, I went without for 8 and a half days. I have now a propane powered 20 KW generator. We have gone to solar powered water wells for the cattle. These days a person needs to have backups. Two is one and one is none. Stay warm. Regards

  2. There are so many things we think we can not do without but are realy a luxury .We start the car to go a block away and get upset when the electricity goes out .No TV terrible . Im surounded by a life time of collecting things .Mostly just things .Im going to sell or give away most so i can move to Calif and be with my long lost family.I have not seen anyone in over 20 years .And a ex wife i have not even seen a picture of in 40 years .But they are still my family and all i have left .looking around at all my “THINGS “what small part to keep or get rid of .Now i will discover what is really important .My grand fathers bible and pistol tons of pictures ,A lot of hand work my wife made but not much else .Strange .If i had a way i have a collection of oil lamps some plain some with shades even a couple with cut crystal bottoms . i would give them to you for your cabins . So much for rambling i have to start get ready to start getting ready to get rid of ” THINGS ”

  3. we let it melt away. or maybe the rains come and flood it out, crashing our worlds into wholeness.

    and on we flow. you are, i believe, a nymph of wood and water. and your expression washes away the unessential.

    what a wonder!

  4. Ruth,
    and with your spray of words, fine and fresh like morning dew, quick and fleeting we grasp to have them hold, but alas, they are gone…
    we are left standing, staring, feeling the dampness on us. and so we smile, realizing it comes, it goes, its really there all the time, no need to try to hold onto that which is meant to be free.

  5. This reminds me of a quote I love by Henry David Thoreau:

    “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have even lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor.”

    I’ve learned, as we try to simplify our lives, that we have so very much, regardless of what society says. Family, love, friendship, home, food, health, animal companionship… these things truely fill our lives with meaning!

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