Archive for December 2009

Power cuts, ploughing.

A power cut is an inconvenience that usally causes a ripple of upset for an hour or so afterwards as sufferers recount their miseries to each other as though they are events worthy of the front page of a daily newspaper. The inconveniece usually lasts not more than a couple of hours at most and the returning electricity is received with cries of joy.

Here in my village the electricity goes off regularly for short periods while new bulbs are put in the street lights or some other work is done. Such a normal event is this that when the Belediye cherry picker is seen entering the village everybody knows that one of two things is going to happen. Either the electricity will go off or work will commence on the phone lines. For the former no further action is required of the village residents. For the latter a regular and frequent check is required to ensure the phone still has a dial tone. It is entirely possible that during the course of work one’s telephone will be disconnected and the action then is to ensure that the wire twisting ‘technician’ is informed before he leaves the area.

When I first came to live here thunderstorms used to cause power cuts every time. When a rumble of thunder was heard a sequence of actions was instigated that helped to ensure the minimum of disruption was caused. Oil lamps had to be filled with oil and, with extended wicks and lifted glass shade, placed along with a box of matches, so that they could be found easily in the pitch dark. A kettle had to be filled with water and placed on the stove, mobile telephones and other rechargeable items were plugged in to top up the batteries, television sets, satellite decoders, landline telephones and other sensitive electrical equipment had to be unplugged or risk being fried by a lightning strike and a good supply of dry wood would be brought in and put to hand near the stove.

For the last year or so power cuts caused by storms could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The installation of new pylons, cables and no doubt other equipment seems to have been a great success, until three days ago that is. Last Wednesday morning at about 8.30 the power went off. It has only been back on briefly since, long enough for me to plug in the rechargeable things, connect to the internet and reply to a few emails and have half a conversation on Skype. On that Wednesday the intermittent supply of power was a real pain. It would come on and raise my sprits only to dash them again five minutes later. Perhaps eight or ten times during the day this happened until it finally went off not to return and I went to bed fed up.

What to do during a power cut is a personal thing but my evenings are pretty easily taken care of. Cooking my dinner on or in my wood burning stove (akin to a mini Aga) is usually my first priority. I have a selection of meals that I prepared previously and stored in the freezer for just such an occasion so all I have to do is warm them enough to eat. Having eaten I feed the dogs. After that I may play my accoustic guitar for a while or read by the light of a torch powered by a motorcycle battery, then go to bed. What to do during a stormy day is not so easy. When the wind and rain are shredding the flora in my garden and working (or even just being) outside is impossible then pacing back and forth, hands deep in pockets, complaining bitterly and loudly is one possibility but I soon get fed up with that. Reading is a always a favourite, assuming there is sufficient ambient light.

I well remember reading novels as a youth sitting in a tent on a hill overlooking the Welsh coastal village of Amroth with the regular Wednesday or Thursday storms threatening to pluck the tent and me from the field only to deposit the wrapped bundle some miles away. Don’t you just love family camping holidays? Eh? Eh? In my house even angling the book towards a window does not provide enough light when a heavy cloudburst occurs.

Sometimes I try to imagine the work going on to repair the faults and reconnect the power. I wonder how they are getting on with it. Is someone hanging on to a pylon by their lower legs while straining to plait together the broken strands of cable? Are there men sawing noisily at a huge tree that got blown over bringing down a mile of cable with it? Wielding their chainsaws perilously close to their sandal shod feet while balancing precariously on a branch being sawn by others? Or maybe in a backroom of a power station someone is laboriously hand winding new wire onto the giant rotor of a generator with a crane standing by to lift it back into place and the whole to be reassembled and producing electricity in a couple of weeks time?

As the water in my five litre kettle pings it’s little boiling noises atop the wood burning stove I find time aplenty to wax lyrical about the possibilities. A week may be a long time in politics but three days is a long time without power. Is the food in the freezer going to spoil? The prepared stuff won’t but I have a leg of wild boar in there that I would be very disappointed about if I had to give it to the dogs, although they, no doubt, wouldn’t sympathise at all.

Stanley the cat curls up on his cushion near the stove and the house goes dark again as a new downpour starts. It will be a fine year for the crops next year.

A couple of weeks ago Nadir was ploughing his field using a wooden plough drawn by his horse and his donkey, an unlikely team I agree but they worked well together. How else would he do it?


How old is that plough? Only about 10 or 12 years, people still know how to make these things in some parts of the world. The field is too small to get a tractor in and if he bought a rotorvator it would be sitting idle for the rest of the year but his beasts can carry his crop to the mill in the next village and bring the resulting flour back home. He planted his wheat, broadcasting it from a pouch hung in front of him like a kangaroo’s pouch, and now it is three inches high already.

Well the power eventually came back on and everything returned to normal. People used to ask what we did before electricity, then they asked what we did before TV. Now I suppose they ask what we did before the internet. What will be next I wonder? Will I survive to see it? Do I want to?

Posted December 19, 2009 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized