Empowerment Without Power


(Being inspired by the richest man in Bedford Falls)

This past Wednesday morning we woke up to a dark and cold home, because our power was out. High winds and freezing temperatures had led to power outages and mishaps across northern New Mexico, so we weren’t alone.

However, ironically, we are the only home, out of a dozen or so atop the Mesa, which is tied to the grid - everyone else runs on solar and many have done so for decades, which means they not only continued to have electricity, but WiFi as well. All the while, half the homes off the Turquoise Trail in Santa Fe, Route 14, did not.

The worse part of it for me was not the lack of electricity or heat, but not being able to have my first cup of coffee. How can one muster enough energy to do all that has to be done during a period of urgency and uncertainty if he has not caffeine coursing through his veins by 6:30 AM?

In addition to getting a couple of generators for Hacienda Dominguez, I immediately realized how important a bottle of Folgers instant coffee is in such situations.

The silver lining was that I realized how vital our aspirations for complete food and energy self-sufficiency and sustainability truly are.

This realization went far beyond our permaculture farming aspirations too, because after I went to The Shed to find some piano books for beginners for Olivia Luz, I was reminded of how important it is for us to have the talent and motivation to entertain ourselves and the skills to creatively produce, rather than to simply consume and be continually entertained by others.

Our inconvenient situation also highlighted how important it is to be able to do things unplugged - whether it’s work or playing an instrument.

I’m happy to say, that although the kids ultimately got the day off from school and had to stay home, and the power came back on by 10 AM or so, we still accomplished a lot at Hacienda Domínguez this week.

We had a great start of the week with an early Monday morning appearance on the local radio show, Estevan in the Morning, on KWSV 99.9 FM. It was a wonderful hour of banter, laughter, reminiscing and mutual admiration.

Enzo & Maddy made magnificent progress with getting one of our planting fields ready by moving a hundred or so 60 lb. bags of horse manure to prep it for the spring, as well as accepting a delivery of a couple of tons of high-quality compost from Reunity Resources.

Olivia and Milo finished their final week of school for 2021 at TTCS, while Chelsea also got through another grueling week at work, because it seems like she’s practically the only doctor in Santa Fe.

And in addition to the usual slate of tasks, I was also able to place most of the stories I’ve written about our adventure here, since we landed on May 16, on our website ( haciendadominguez.com).

Our week ended on a high note, as we all got fitted for skis and snowboards at Alpine Ski and now we’re set to begin using our season passes at Ski Santa Fe.

Moreover, tonight we watched perhaps my all-time favorite movie (could be a tie with Citizen Kane) - It’s A Wonderful Life. My eyes are always sore at the end from all the weeping and happy crying, as it is marvelous to be reminded by this magnificent cinematic wonder of how lucky we all are simply to be alive. And if you have good relationships with your family, friends, and neighbors, how you’re likewise as lucky to experience the love and support of your community.

The story of George Bailey and the clarity that his guardian angel Clarence helped him find, remind me of one of my favorite passages from Emerson:

What is success?

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch Or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!

- Ralph Waldo Emerson