Using a blackout to teach History.
As a small child we lived overseas where blackouts and lack of drinkable water were just regular parts of every day. That was over 30 years ago and a "no big deal", in my bank of childhood memories.
Just recently my daughter experienced her first blackout in our usually mild Northwest weather. We had high winds, downed trees, and blackouts all throughout the city.
Our weather is usually not too extreme one way or another. Except for all the rain. We get a lot of that but we're used to it.
So it's no surprise that we tend to get really relaxed about being prepared for inclement weather and things my take us unawares.
As a child my mother was always overly prepared because these things came so often. We had tons of candle and matches. A little burner to heat things on. We kept lots of dried foods and we also kept our bathtub filled with water because water shortages were just as common. We took baths with buckets of water that had been heated on the stove.
Blackouts were no big deal for me but for my daughter it was a nerve wracking event. Everything was dark as it happened at night and there was not a light in the sky! She’s heard of blackouts, read about them, and seen them on the news but she had never experienced one. She was nervous, scared, and excited all in one.
To help her relax a little bit about the ordeal I didn't choose to discuss blackouts themselves but instead, as I lit candles and rummaged in the pantry for edibles, I figured it was the perfect time to talk about one of her favorite time periods.
The Pioneer Days
I led her through the house carrying a candle as we grabbed crank flashlights (love that invention) and battery operated radios. I prepared a dinner of corn chips and guacamole while we gathered around the dining table with more lit candles to set the mood…
Now although my cellphone was working I pretended it didn't as I began to talk about what life might have been like back in the day before electricity was common place.
Lighting and Heat
I talked about how there was no thermostat to adjust for a more comfortable living room. How a hearth or a fire would be the heat to heat a home. And you had to be careful with fire just as you have to be today.
How candles and oil lamps would be used for light at night.
Most windows did not come with glass as the pioneers were just getting settled. Instead they put up grease paper to let a smidgen of light through.
As you can imagine the insides of cabins were pretty dark.
We talked about what the pioneers might do in the evenings with so little light. Since we had limited light we knew that reading was difficult or maybe if a family member could read they would read aloud to the rest of the family member.
We talked about how food was not as plentiful and as varied as we have today. No sir! You ate what didn’t spoil and what you were able to grow, catch, and preserve.
Food was cooked over a fireplace and the fire was lit from a coal or by “borrowing” some fire from a neighbor. Matches were not known back then.
Kemi Quinn is a wife, mother, church musician, and amateur cook. She loves to read about how women kept home in time’s past (aka Vintage Homemaking). She blogs over at Homemaking Organized.