Yesterday, my normal Sunday schedule was unexpectedly derailed with a wide-scale power outage across areas of Pittsburgh. While the loss of WiFi has become culturally known as being just short of cause for national emergency, it wasn’t actually the internet that hurled me into frustration (at first). It was bread!! I’d planned, for the past three weeks, to bake a loaf of sourdough on Sunday; and every week, I faithfully took my starter out of the fridge, fed it until it was ripe enough for baking, and then ran out of time at home to actually bake bread before the work week began. After a December filled with the excitement of two or three loaves every week, I’d been experiencing severe sourdough withdrawal. That’s why my giddiness quickly devolved into devastation when, after finally having time to tackle the multiple-day commitment of baking a loaf this weekend, our power went out exactly halfway into my bread’s baking. And that’s also why I began writing this from the black cave of our living room, mourning the sad, pale sourdough still sitting in my Dutch oven across the hall.
The tragedy of the bread behind me, I had begun to feel the more anticipated affects of the outage: my phone was losing charge quickly, our fridge was, of course, packed tighter than it’d been all year; I couldn’t microwave food or make tea with our kettle; and, Lord knows, there was certainly sheer panic when the greater Pittsburgh area was deprived of its Superbowl Sunday. But, among the endless inconveniences that always emerge when the stool of technology is knocked from beneath us, I found that the most drastic was that of darkness. As I sat cuddled in a hoodie and throne of pillows, I was taken aback by the sheer lack of light–so much, so, that I continuously glanced at the time to make sure that it actually was only 6:30.
It’s bizarre, realizing how out of sync our societal clock is with the natural rhythm of the Earth. It’s almost as if the more technology we introduce into our lives, the further removed we become from the natural, instinctual schedules of the world. This increasing gap, or disconnect, if you will, holds comical irony: the aim of new technology is to allow us to become more connected, more capable– yet the further technological advancement weaves its way into our daily lives, the harder we crash and burn when we become deprived of it. Today, the idea that we’re helpless without our phones or the internet is becoming less of a needy complaint and more of a reality.
Of course, it’s idealistic to even suggest that we could abandon this comfortable reliance, take a step back in time and off the grid and reconnect with nature. But it’s quite enjoyable to entertain the idea of what life would be like if we chose to align ourselves with the clock of the Earth instead of our smartphones. What would it feel like to rise with the light of the Sun and not our bedside lamps, and to rest as dictated by the night sky? What if heading to bed at 7 was considered average instead of geriatric? Would we feel a little more like we were living with nature instead around it or on it?
I don’t spend much time contemplating our relationship with the Earth, but as I stared at my screen contrasted against the blackness of the room around me, I couldn’t help but feel it was one of tension, almost direct conflict. With no man-made lighting and a sky outside that begged for me to pack up my day and get under the covers, I felt increasingly stubborn as I typed away, screen brightness as high as possible and flashlight at the ready in my lap–it felt like I was defying the authority of the natural world. There’s something powerful about darkness, real darkness, the kind we’ve managed to entirely eliminate from our existence with street lights, interior lights, spotlights, etc. There’s a reason that grandparents always talk about how amazing the night sky used to be when you could actually see it.
With my strange sense of defiance, though, also came respect. As I watched the Earth fall into sleep around me, yesterday, I felt a unique closeness to creation. Humans have a tendency to assert their dominance over the planet we’ve been given: so much so, that we’re realizing more and more the importance of protecting and preserving it–and that we’ve already caused irreparable damage. I think it’s easy to forget, in our technological race to the top, that this place we inhabit is just as living, changing, and evolving as we are. I’ve always been fascinated by the number of biblical passages that discuss creation worshiping God. The imagery of “mountains quaking before him” and “coastlands waiting for his teaching” is just so beautiful! And it’s so unlike the characterizations of nature we employ through our actions: we see it as passive, inexpressive, even a barrier to our advancement, sometimes.
Yesterday’s power outage was just a small blip in the fast-paced continuum of my life, of life in 2020 in general. But it’s those moments that remind me that another breath, another rhythm, was established long before my own 6:30 alarm habit. And, further, they remind me that, occasionally, falling into step with it is a real treat.
“But as the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”
Job 12: 7-10
Strawberry Basil Scones (V)
- 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegan butter, cold
- 1/2 vegan sugar
- 1 flax egg (1 TBSP ground flax mixed with 3 TBSP water, left to chill in the fridge for at least 5 minutes)
- 1/2 cup “buttermilk” (1 tsp apple cider vinegar mixed with enough almond milk to make 1/2 cup)
- 1/3 chopped, fresh basil (lightly packed into cup)
- 1 cup diced strawberries (I used frozen strawberries, thawed enough to easily chop)
- 1 cup vegan powdered sugar
- 2 TBSP almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Using forks or a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the mixture becomes small crumbles. Place in the fridge or freezer to keep cold.
- In a smaller bowl, mix together the sugar, flax egg, buttermilk, basil, and strawberries.
- Take flour mixture out of the fridge/freezer.
- Mix strawberry/basil mixture into the dry ingredients, stopping as soon as they’re combined.
- Separate mixture into two sections, and form discs out of each. Cut each disc into four equal parts (or 8 if you want smaller scones), and separate them slightly across the pan. You can flour your hands and the surface of the parchment to more easily form the scones.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes, or until the bottoms of the scones are just browning.
- While they bake, make the glaze: whisk all ingredients together, and set aside until ready to use.
- Take the scones out of the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Drizzle glaze on top of them, and allow to set. Enjoy!