Returning to the Light

Wednesday afternoon, wind from the north developed, driving our wind generator, and returning power to the homestead. After much of a week of low power, our battery charged up, and life began to return to normal for us.

We had relied on oil lamps for most of our light. Michelle began hauling headlamp batteries into town for recharging. We struggled to begin our Christmas season without music on the stereo, or lights on the tree or house. We barely managed to keep the basic electrical functions of the cabin moving forward, as the battery’s charge level slipped down to 30%.

Zeiger family homestead wind generator

A good, steady north wind drives the homestead wind generator (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Now, we’re back. I’m pausing to write this before running upstairs to print our annual newsletter to insert in Christmas cards that can’t be sent until they each get a copy. I put colored lights on the house Wednesday night, but didn’t dare test them (much) until now.

Compounding this was my desire to test a new piece of electrical equipment, which I’ll cover more fully in a future post. It allows more of our system to run at the battery’s higher voltage, particularly useful at Christmas time.

But now, when we enter a room, we flip on a light. Christmas music plays on the stereo. We can walk around the house without headlamps strapped to our foreheads. Life is, once again, full of light.

Zeiger family homesttead cabin at Christmas

Our cabin is once again full of light, and lit for Christmas (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We often get a “power drought” about this time each year, as a calm, warm period coincides with the nadir of daylight. We’ve had some seriously low-power Christmases on the homestead. Each time it happens, though, it seems far worse than the last time, and the inevitable return to the light always seems the sweeter for it.

The irony of all this does not escape me (see “Come Darkness, Come Light”).

Today, incidentally, is St. Lucia Day, sometimes known as “Little Yule” (see St. Lucia Day, December 13th: A Swedish Christmas Tradition Featuring Breakfast in Bed!). It used to be regarded as the darkest night of the year, so the fact that we have returned to the light at this time seems particularly auspicious.

This entry was posted in Off-the-Grid Power and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Returning to the Light

  1. Unwise Bard says:

    Always interested in off-grid power, as that’s one of the biggest question marks for moving in that direction. I’ve seen voltage/clock “cleaners” for buildings with questionable 120V AC wiring. But as far as I know, they were also pretty large energy vampires, so not off-grid friendly.

    I wouldn’t say ironic. I would say poetic, matching the winter solstice & the traditional time of darkness. Religious rituals & folklore abound about the sun being in peril of being swallowed by darkness at this time of the year & celebrating it’s triumphant return. Guess it is more a matter of perspective though, as living without much electricity is much more romantic from this side of the screen!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Unwise Bard, you raise some interesting points, with which I largely agree. I agree that our waning power matching the waning daylight is more poetic than ironic. I’ve spoken of this before in the post Season of Darkness, Season of Light, in which I also try to throw shade on the modern idea that our ancestors actually feared the solstice, rather than feeling a responsibility to ritualistically help it through its yearly cycle. I feel that modern man, considering nature as “an other,” shows a lot of hubris claiming that our forebearers did this out of fear.

    And, I do feel that living with less electricity is romantic. When we lived on grid, we observed “Pioneer Night,” which more or less celebrated non-electric light. Since moving to the homestead, we’ve wanted to reinstate this family tradition, but haven’t, mostly because it makes little sense to purchase and haul in lamp oil instead of using the electricity we create for free from the elements. I don’t mind the slack power periods so much, as it gives us a chance to use our oil lamps. However, a lack of power at the Christmas season encourages us to put off our preparations for the season, and that grates a bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *