A few weeks ago, on a warm Monday afternoon we found ourselves in the middle of a power cut. Before I start I should say I love our apartment; I didn’t expect to when we moved here I thought we might find somewhere nice but I didn’t think we’d find somewhere that I actually fell in love with and which felt like home; a very different home from what we have back in Scotland, but a home nonetheless. However, it has a flaw; it has practically no natural lighting. It is very long and narrow and both our front and back balconies are shaded by beautiful big trees, which makes it a lovely place to sit outside but doesn’t really allow any natural light to pass into the apartment. Now this is something which on regular days when we have working electricity doesn’t bother me (Mark finds this hard to believe as when we were house hunting in the UK natural light was one of the things on our wish list that I wasn’t willing to compromise on, but I guess this apartment won me over without needing natural light.) However because of this as soon as the power went out that Monday I was immediately plunged into darkness.
At this point I could see enough (just) to get around without a candle but not enough to say, read. Not a problem I thought, I’ll just sit on the balcony and read my book until it comes back on. I stepped outside and was hit by what felt like a gust of stifling, boiling hot air. Ah yes that’s right, that’s why I wasn’t outside today, it was 31 degrees and the humidity was through the roof. I stepped back inside. Okay, so what to do now. It was too dark to do any cleaning, or to write and the lack of electricity meant TV, radio, and DVD’s were all out of the question. I found my IPad and was delighted to see that for once it was fully charged, eagerly I switched it on and then I remembered, my IPad works off Wi-Fi, and no electricity also means no Wi-Fi. Back to square one.
As I sat pondering what to do in the dark, I started to feel a bit warm. Thinking it was just my brief stint onto the balcony that had caused me to feel the heat I wandered over to the A/C unit to check it was up full……and quickly realised my stupidity. Oh no, no electricity also meant no air con. Well it’ll be okay I thought, its been on all morning, how hot can it get that quickly? By the time dinner time arrived and my husband was home from work I was back out on the balcony. Our home had became the equivalent of a sauna and was now actually even warmer than the stifling heat I had encountered outside earlier, the pup and I were both melting. I’m writing this while sat on the balcony and on a day like today it really wouldn’t have been an issue, its lovely and warm outside but not humid, at least not in the way it was that day, so spending time out on the balcony would have been a pleasure and not the lesser of two evils.
As dinner time had brought with it no sign of the power coming back on, the spaghetti bolognaise (and a vegi version for me) that I had planned for dinner was no longer a possibility. So with no hob, oven or even toaster working we did the only thing possible and ordered a pizza. This was most definitely the highlight of the night.
We tried to take Max, our dog for a walk but due to the humidity he kept stopping and lying down, cue lots of sympathetic “awww’s” from passers by. I sympathised too , if I could have got away with it I would have done the same and I wasn’t in a fur coat. Normally on a night as warm as this he comes back in and lies under the air con unit for a bit to cool down but on this night he, nor we, had any such luxury. The power did finally turn back on just before 10pm, to a resounding cheer from our street. The full balconies up and down the block all evening indicated we weren’t the only ones struggling in the dark without air conditioning.
This got me thinking though as to how much I have came to rely on mod cons, all powered by electricity. It’s only when they’re taken away from us that we realise how much they rule our everyday lives. I’m not suggesting by any means that I wish to live by candlelight; candles are one of my favourite things and our apartment is full of them (thankfully!) but having to carry one with me to get around the house, well I’m glad those days are long gone; but I do feel that the introduction of modern inventions such as TV’s, iPads etc. have taken away a lot of our ability to entertain ourselves. I was at a genuine loss as to what to do with myself in my own home without the focal point of a TV, DVD or internet connection. Granted this wouldn’t have seemed quite so bad were it not for the extreme heat and humidity Montreal was undergoing that day but it’s certainly given me food for thought about how I don’t always have to be connected to an electronic device and that they should be thought of as perhaps a luxury rather than a necessity. Other than air con! Something which obviously we would never have had/needed back home has now became a part of our everyday lives here in summer. I know lots of people function in Montreal without air conditioning, (how?!) though how their marriages or their sanity remain intact I don’t know; so for the sake of both, in this heat, air conditioning is one modern luxury us Scots absolutely require.