Thumb loops for secure transit. Photo courtesy Flickr
The steward of an Elizabethan household of privilege would light the family to bed, carrying a candlestick and leading a procession from the hall upstairs to their chambers. In the days of flint and steel, tending a flame was a meaningful responsibility.
The nineteenth century added relatively clean-burning oil lamps to candles and the rush lights of which I have no experience. During my time off the grid, I tended candlesticks and kerosene lamps in the morning after I washed the breakfast dishes.
The night before, lamps and candles that weren’t being used to light someone to bed were carried to the kitchen for safekeeping. The next day I trimmed the wicks so they would burn clean and washed glass chimneys to get the best effect out of the fuel.
Last winter, The Great Big Northern European home furnishings chain offered a solar task light. It’s been so convenient I have bought several. The lamps are a two-fer: one for me, one for a kid in the Third World. The test model charged indoors on a sunporch in a miserable gray Seattle winter, so it is likely to be efficient anywhere. I bought a couple more to have back-up batteries, but they cycle efficiently enough I haven’t had to cannibalize a power source.
I’m not working at integrating these little solar lamps into the household, just keeping them around to see if I use them. They’re convenient for reading in bed and for lighting small repair jobs in awkward locations. This week I discovered that I can lift the battery out of one and set it on a windowsill in the morning, just as I tended lamps in the woods. I like the ritual and the independence, and it’s a giggle to begin to disentangle this 1890 house from central utilities.
A recent visit to an office supply chain uncovered a line of cordless rechargeable task lights from the outfit that gives quilters day-accurate lighting, so I guess the elegance and flexibility of wireless illumination is catching on.
-30- More after the jump.