Two nights without power, but I learned that when there is no power, there is still power. Only the humans and the trees felt the impact of the storm. But back to power and powerlessness. The Stop n Shop in Northampton became an oasis of light and community. Shoppers milled around the dim grocery store purchasing cans of soup and boxes of crackers. You could not purchase any meat or any dairy. All of that had been shuttled into an emergency cooler somewhere; but if you couldn't purchase some perishable items when the power lines were down—an estimated 10,000 power lines came down in New England—you could feel the communal warmth of your fellow shoppers, a warmth that is rare in New England where the people are known to be cool. I refused to pay $20 for a scented candle, but one knock on my neighbor's door produced two stick candles and one pillar.
My mother emailed me from Hilton Head about an hour ago, demanding pictures of the downed trees. Sorry, ma, but I only have pictures of candles. Your relationship to candles changes immensely when the rumor mill swirls around and you hear predictions that you will be without power or light for four, possibly five days. You don't burn all your candles simultaneously. You look at your stock of candles and burn only as many as you need in order to see the faces of your friends and neighbors as they sit across from you in the relative dark, sipping their whiskey.