In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Give us this day our daily sun or wind

This afternoon a wild westerly wind is blowing and the sun bounces off a harbor churning with white-capped waves.  It’s a wide awake day, cold and lively, after a night of high wind and ice and rain.  The wind holds the house in an enthusiastic embrace, pleading with it to get up and dance an unruly lumbering winter stomp to the tune of its loud brass band, a Mardi Gras of percussive bass with overtones of wail and screech, in defiant, wake-the-neighborhood surround-sound.  Let’s dance! The wind is yelling over the noise of itself.

Today we have a lot of sun and a lot of wind. It’s the perfect combination that gives our fancy batteries a big charge and gives us more electricity than we can use, unless we plan to spend the afternoon in a hot shower, hopping out now and then to use the vacuum cleaner and the power saw.

Our house had done without electricity for a hundred and fifty years before we installed the solar tracker and the wind turbine.  It had seemed lovely to do without, but impractical. Now, hidden inside its walls, are the wires that allow us to light the rooms, use the internet, listen to music, and keep our food cold, not to mention fire up all those power tools.  

But we can’t store this power. Our batteries, once filled, decline slowly but inevitably.  They need constant recharging, from tonight’s wind and tomorrow’s sun, or any combination thereof.  Even though we have more than we need, we can’t save it up for a rainy windless day, and since we’re not on a power grid we can’t sell it to anybody.  Today our energy is abundant, and tomorrow it may be nothing but a trickle.

The ancient Israelites got into trouble out there in the wilderness when they tried to store the manna that came down from the sky as unmanageably as does our electricity. They thought they were wise to collect more than they needed, engaging in the sort of industrious and resourceful behavior the world admires.  But the next morning the manna was moldy and rancid and they had to throw it all out.  They learned, eventually, gratitude for a daily sustenance, a gift of life they could not control.    

Today electrical current spills through our house, a blessing that pours out of the sky like a cup running over.  And we must simply live unto the day, learning the wilderness lesson whether we like it or not.  

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