Like today. The topic of our twenty-one day countdown is low energy entertainment, and today is Earth Hour. Crunchy Chicken has a great suggestion of what we could do to participate in the great experiment.. Unfortunately, at 8:30 PM I still have three young girls running around, wide awake, and it might be a little awkward - for all of us - to have the lights go out and Deus Ex Machina and I sneak back into the bedroom and lock the door for an hour. While my girls are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves, I'm sure they'd wonder where we were and what we were doing, and while we're laid back about most things, that's still an area that is not broached in casual conversation. In short, they "know where babies come from", but the actual logistics of the operation are still in one of those gray areas, and at least for a bit longer, I'm happy to keep it in the shadows.
The question is what do we do for an hour without electronic fun. We could all read, and that would work for that one hour, but what if Earth Hour weren't voluntary? What if having electricity at night was an exception rather than the norm?
In the book, Good-bye to the Mermaids: A Childhood Lost in Hitler's Berlin), the author points out that in post-WWII Berlin, electricity was rationed, and so the things that people found the most valuable were those appliances, etc, that didn't require electricity. Modern stoves and refrigerators and electric coffee grinders weren't very useful, and they only worked sporadically. People were scavenging in the poorer parts of Berlin for hand tools.
Also, an interesting point to note along those lines is that in a subsistence lifestyle, a great deal more time was spent *not* working than was spent working. In our modern lives with all of our modern conveniences, which do most of the hand work for us, we mistakenly think that those who lived a subsistence life (working for food and not for money) worked much harder than we do, toiling away the hours in quiet suffering just to put food on the table, but that is *so* NOT the case. In fact, the average European peasant farmer only worked about nineteen hours per week (over a year with average number of hours varying based on the season).
I had a conversation with a friend the other day, who was just waking up to the fact that when we work for money, a good deal of our time is spent doing things that don't enrich our lives, but when we start to work to live, the whole dynamic of living changes. What she was discovering was that it takes a lot more of our time to work to pay for heating oil and gasoline and electricity than it does to forage firewood, walk to the store, and hang a load of laundry on the line outside. What she was discovering was that when we do it all by hand, instead of paying someone (or something) else to do it for us, we have a lot more time to do nothing.
So, if we're moving toward a lower energy lifestyle, and after we've done our days' work, what do we do?
This evening, my family will be turning out the lights, lighting some oil lamps and playing the Game of Life.
We have a lot of games, puzzles, decks of cards, and artsy-craftsy kinds of projects. We also play musical instruments and dance, and my girls love to perform. We like story-telling and joke-telling. In fact, since we are pretty well adept at entertaining ourselves, some of my girls' favorite times are when we don't have power.
As we transition away from electronic entertainment, having simple games will be very helpful. With that in mind, I have a "Box of Family Fun" to offer - a few games and other togetherness building activities ;). If you're interested in this box of games, please leave a comment.
AND THE WINNER IS ...The winner of the hand-crank coffee grinder is Nick. Congratulations! Please leave a comment with your full name and address. Comments are moderated and I will not publish your information.
The End is Near ... this is the final push toward day twenty-one. Only four days left until the end! Be sure to check back every day, and comment, if you would like to be entered that day's drawing.