Interstices

Are these energy articles worth our while? I’m not sure. Rather, it will be a case of the blind leading the blind because I don’t know “energy” any more than the next person.

Or maybe I do. Because, in the years since moving from Rhode Island to New Hampshire to live off-grid at Darwin’s View, my perspective on energy has shifted, as it did when Carl and I bought our EV Leaf in 2012.

The cutting edge of electric vehicles at the time, the Leaf requires an off-grid mentality of limited resources, not abundance. Just as I have learned to turn off the lights when I leave a room and not to use a hair dryer, just so the Leaf requires a certain mind set: Planning. It is remarkably like budgeting. We must ask ourselves how far are we driving? Why? Is it a necessary trip?

And, stunning but true: Carl drives slower in the Leaf because driving fast takes up more electric charge. He takes it as a challenge to keep track of how much less energy he uses on each trip. 

For my part, I drive slower because it’s incredibly satisfying to grow more of those trees that appear on the dashboard when I drive carefully.

Due to its lowering battery life, our Leaf can go eighty miles on a full charge. That means eighty is the number of miles we have to get to where we are going, and back again. On a seventy degree day. No hills. With the windows closed, and no heat or cooling. And the whole time, we feel like we’re in a Star Trek vehicle. The quiet whirr of the electric motor. Sh! You slide past the gas stations, feeling oh, so oil free. And the car has an adorable thing called “turtle mode”. A little turtle joins the trees on the dashboard when the car is on its last gasp of power. The turtle appears just after the red, blinking lights begin, and the sultry car voice announces that the car “will not reach its destination please head immediately to the nearest charging station,” which is usually farther away than one’s destination. And then the car slows waaaaaaay down. Just like a turtle.

And so, driving the Leaf is, at times, like a cross-country train ride: it’s about the adventure, not the arrival. So is living off-grid on top of a windy hill in times of climate disruption. Beautiful. Heartbreaking. Frightening. Sobering. Life at Darwin’s View: a study of change and transition because Carl and I might live off-grid but, still, on some days, our propane-powered generator charges into action. 

And so, maybe my experiences here will become the interstices between these energy articles, exhibiting some of the possible answers to the bedeviling issues we face. Or maybe the energy articles will be the interstices between those I write about what we are doing at Darwin’s View. Maybe, with time, the two will become one. We are all, after all, just energy.

Much as we love our Leaf, it’s rather a sad rendition compared to the cars coming out these days that can go two and three hundred miles on a charge. But here’s a secret: I prefer our Leaf for exactly that reason. It doesn’t fool us into thinking we can go farther, faster. Which is a lesson we, Americans, must learn. Bigger is not better. More and more and more money is not life’s purpose. And being often makes more sense than doing as energy swirls around us, and our world rockets through the universe, and ever in the background, that aching question: will we save her?

Friday’s post will be Energy 102: Energy in the U.S. Of A. Definitions and Infrastructure.

 IN WHICH IT IS NO LONGER A CASE OF WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, BUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO.” PAUL GILDING, THE GREAT DISRUPTION