Grit Blogs > Country Life

Technology Is Great – When It Works

Ginnie BakerI have always liked new technology and gadgets. That starts with bright red sports cars to the newest cellphone and PC apps. At the same time, I’ve always liked early history, especially about life in the Colonies.

This past week was a challenge and made me think a lot about how people lived in those early days.

First, my PC wasn’t cooperating with the Internet. I lost access, and the PC had to be worked on several times.

Then, crews working on our rural road, replacing a culvert, severed the phone cable and put the entire road out of service. I didn’t have service restored for five days as they spliced the cable back together.

Since I worked for a major telecommunications company, I understood the implications of that type of cable cut and the amount of man-hours to get service restored.

It made me think a lot about life in the 17th century and whether I could have lived that life.

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My home is a replica of an early Saltbox, and my furnishings are the primitive, but comfortable, style. I have all the modern conveniences including a dishwasher and microwave. I enjoy hanging laundry out on the line, but I have a new, energy-efficient front-loading washer and dryer.

I have a red sporty car with a turbo and a red SUV with a super charger for winter driving. I have a new “smart phone” plus the old “land line,” and we have a wireless router for Internet access.

But I also enjoy doing hearth cooking in the winter, baking bread and preserving the produce from the garden. I have a collection of cookbooks that include early recipes I enjoy making year-round. The cookbooks are from Colonial Williamsburg, Sturbridge Village and one particular favorite, The Shaker Cook Book.

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The question is, would I be able to survive without all of those conveniences?

Living in a rural area, we have power outages occasionally, and they can last for days, especially in winter.

Several years ago, we had one of those outages. The power was out for five days. The only heat was from the fireplace where I also cooked our meals. Since we have a well, water had to be conserved because without power, the pump wasn’t running. Our light sources were kerosene lamps and candles.

It gave me a real taste of “primitive” living. I sort of enjoyed the first day or so, “playing” pioneer but after that, it wasn’t much fun.

The cold seeped into the house; I could do hearth cooking but dishes had to sit until the power was restored or we used paper plates and disposable eating utensils. Without power, we didn’t have TV; we actually had to TALK to each other! We used cellphones so we could commiserate with others without power.

And we couldn’t use the garage door opener; the big door had to be opened by pure muscle power!

By Day Three, even my Golden Retriever was fed up with the cold. Luckily, an area motel had power and made rooms available for all of us, including our pets, so off we went to get warm and clean! We were able to stay there until the power was restored a couple of days later.

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That experience made me realize just how dependent I am on the modern conveniences.

We now have a generator that powers the outdoor wood furnace so we have heat and hot water, the well pump for water and sanitary uses, and some lights.

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Now, I live the primitive life of the early 17th century when I want to, but still have my modern conveniences, including the garage door opener!