Our neighborhood group was challenged to try an experiment--live for three days without going to the store for food, the gas station for gas, and the kicker, live without electricity. Refrigerator and phones were excepted and my husband and I didn't investigate too closely whether our gas water heater used any electricity to get the hot water to the shower.
But it was enough. Enough to cause some thought about how my ancestors lived. We had oil lamps already filled, but they did not give me enough light to read comfortably. I got a new appreciation for the sun. Its rising and setting took on a whole new importance to me. I sorted through my "dirty" clothes, pondering which ones really needed washing. I hung them on the clotheslines instead of throwing them in the dryer. I washed the dirty dishes in the sink by hand. I was so grateful for the season my garden is in--and harvested. I thought a lot harder about cooking. I learned that I didn't really know how to build a fire. But I was rescued on that account by a neighbor.
That's another observation. We pulled together as neighbors. One sweet neighbor figured out how to bake bread and she shared with us. When she heard that we didn't have an easy means of cooking food, she brought over a little propane cookstove to lend us for the duration.
I missed my computer. I missed electric lighting, the dishwasher, washer and dryer, and my stove. But I lived for a little while in some small sense, the life of a woman in days gone past. I felt those women's pain and their joy, their reliance on the weather and the garden and their neighbors. It enriches my life and also my family history writing.