Things take a lot more time when you have no electricity. Coming home when it was already dark meant fumbling to find the matches that we kept near the door, stepping into the room, striking the match, turning the knob on the side of the propane lamp, adjusting it to burn at it’s highest, smokeless illumination then moving on to light another. A double ceiling fixture was in the middle of the kitchen and only a few steps in from the door. Over by the propane stove, on the wall, another single unit. The living room had a wall fixture over the couch and there was one in our office/den; a copper snake of pipe meandered along ceilings and through walls to attach them all to the propane source, a tank outside the kitchen. There was no gauge to show when levels were low, but Stanley, the propane man, seemed to know just when to come and switch out the tanks.
We did have some mod cons. We had a propane fridge and a propane stove, so that we didn’t have to cook over a fire in the summer. Coming home late and getting fires going again took a bit of time, and if you wanted a hot cup of something, it was a blessing to just turn on the propane stove. Mind you, I loved the cook stove. No toast has ever tasted better than toast directly off of a cook stove; no bread baked up higher and crustier than in the wood oven. And it was great to always have a big old kettle of hot water at the ready. Did we have running water, you say? Oh ya, there was a joke among us back-to-the-landers; we had running water, you just had to run out and get it.
There was a pump just off the corner of the house on a very deep well. To fill two five gallon pails, which is what we kept in the house, took a good 15 minutes of work. You might think, how incredible, to spend 15 minutes standing outside (in all weather) pumping water. But you know what? It just slowed you down. There was absolutely nothing else you could do. You could not pump it any faster than the pump would go. You really, really had to get into the Zen of the pump. Pump and pump, up and down and look around, and see the swallows swooping and dancing, see the clouds forming and casting shadows on the roof of the barn or in the fields. Watch the goats in the barnyard, the chickens. It just was a total meditation of action and made your glass of water all the more delicious and satisfying. Things took more time but somehow we had more time. The pace of life on the farm without power was more in tune with the natural world, it seemed. We were more in rhythm with nature. We had more time for visits and friends and languished during snowed in winter days, feet up by the fires. Things took more time but it was time expanded and considered.