The Sky By Tigerlight

by Paige Turner

We were in the jaws of a big wet and windy storm recently, power out all around Marin…I was riding through it all, to my friend’s house so I could finish my cover story for the Specific Pun.

My editor extended the deadline, affording me an entire weekend sans electricity to “perfect” 3000 words…My working title had been: Bottom Feeder in the Rich Bottom Lands

Or would Wasteland Of The Free be better?
How about: Year of the Ratrace.?

It’s never a good sign to chew the TITLES over and over. To keep myself focused, I listed the objectives:
We Marinites waste MORE than our share despite our reputation for being faintly progressive…(proof is my living on the throw-aways)

There is a cohort of people who glean stuff from the upper crustaceans. I call my affiliates “the lower crust”. You can eat damn well out of trees, gutters (olives), and dumpsters. Even wild stuff like natives…we might be smart to learn to leach acorns, make flour, then bake bread like Miwok did.

And perhaps most important, Poverty is a half of a bogus binary division created sometime this century (see Wolfie Sachs). Time is more valuable than money Too many of us are locked in the rat race despite having ‘enough’.

In service to this story : more visits to Gary’s place at odd hours. How could I be up at three a.m.?

When there’s no television, no reading (except by candlelicht)…you go to bed at seven. At least Chas and I did. Gary and Pat do so routinely, electricity or no. Which of course means: up at three, right? Solid eight hours? So I could get PILES of typing done, then climb back to bed. First and second sleep, like the old days.

Riding around in ‘mandatory darkness’ is pretty special. Every couple blocks would be dark, and then there’d be the lit up ones (with the holiday light displays looking especially garish by comparison). And in the dark ones, only one room in each of the houses had a window with light in it. Rich, yellow candlelight usually. And in that window: people crowded around…the candle(s)!

Never saw so many people in each house before… like they are normally dispersed within (at different computer and tv terminals!).
The mood was much more quiet (obv) in the dark stripes of town. The alternating black and brightly lit streets gave the feeling of tiger coloration, maybe if you were flying overhead during those nights, you’d see a pattern of outages.

Meanwhile overlaying the dark bits, at least twice the number of stars as usual. My last trip down the lane, with rain-shiny tarmac reflecting the starlight, all fifty houses fast asleep so not even candles marring the perfect wet blackness, with a stripe of pale in front showing the way because all those stars together throw actual light, again, like they say in the old old days, you could see by that starlight, and the “Melkweg” was considered milk hurled across the sky.

It was a drag when I rode back from Gary’s that Monday at five (still nighttime) a.m. and the streetlights were on , and everything was back to ‘normal’.

Same number of sleeping souls in the neighborhood, but all those default lights blazing–the ones that stay on every night of the year…throwing away river energy, throwing away True Dark Sky, throwing away other stuff I can’t remember, too tired.

Couldn’t we agree to black out a few times a month for practice, as a voluntary nod to the inevitable transition to No Oil and Less Power per person/day?

~ by jacquiephelan on January 12, 2008.

One Response to “The Sky By Tigerlight”

  1. Very nice post. I sometimes ride long on the road at night sans lights. and it’s true: the starlight can be so bright you feel spotlit. After several hours your eyes get so adjusted…

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