Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Gropers — Driving Pennsylvania two-lanes last Saturday at twilight, we stopped at an Amish produce stand. It was on the honor system. Since the Amish eschew electric power, and untended candles pose the hazard of conflagration, it was so dim we could hardly locate the payment can, let alone try to weigh the tomatoes.
Hoping we had left our fair share, we opened the homebound hatchback, forgetful that we had propped a sack of paperbacks against it. The bag tipped over, vomiting the volumes, one by one, onto the gravel of the Amish driveway, giving new meaning to the phrase “dirty books.” As the Amishman drove by we swear we could heard him snicker over the clop of hooves and jingle of reins. The veggies, for the record, were delicious.
About 72 hours later, we got even closer to the Amish experience. Doug had just safely navigated the Biblical deluge which had washed away the Niagara Power’s attempt at a season-ending baseball game to find Polly sitting in the garage, as we do many nights when the days are long. Two decades earlier we had sat in this very spot and, by helping him count the seconds between flash and boom, essentially cured a grandson of fear of storms.
“That was the worst thunder I ever heard,” Polly said this time. “Our lights may be out.”
One switch-flip confirmed her suspicion, igniting a strategic debate about the electrically-operated garage door. We had a release to let it down, but with our limited musculature, could we ever raise it again? As natural light faded, we tabled the motion and sat back to watch the increased pedestrian traffic as neighbors near and far hit the streets to investigate and socialize.
With the rain over, we saddled up the car that regurgitates romance novels and soon discovered that a power line had fallen onto an East River lawn, twitching and spitting sparks like a dyspeptic dragon. We left this to the authorities, drove far enough to identify the boundaries of the outage (the parking lot of a nearby bar-pizzeria was jammed with patrons who may have been in the dark even before the lights went out), cell-phoned family, located candles and settled in to wait it out.