City trees, Chicago (above) and Boston (below). I’m lying on my friend’s couch in Cambridge right now, looking out the window to where bare branches are tangling with power lines and the shallow curve of the streetlight is nudged by exploratory twigs. Night trees and 10,000 volts of silent electricity. As a child, I used to live for the nights when storms would blow down the heavy fir branches and knock out the electricity: we would light a fire and play board games by candlelight, wrapped up in blankets on the sheepskin rugs. It was a sort of party.
A few years ago I was at home with my family in Victoria, and the power went out just as it used to. We looked at each other, thought about it, and then we all four piled into the car with our various devices and drove up to the University, where lights and the internet were still available. I seem to remember commandeering an empty lecture hall to watch “Machete” on the big projector with my brother. The lofty atrium of the new computer science building was echoey that night, most of the students gone home to dorm rooms whose power had not been interrupted by the storm; they would never realize it had blown down power lines throughout the surrounding neighborhoods. A few hours later, we went home to bed, and in the morning it was restored.